Skip to main content

Full text of "Admiralty Brief (Part 2)"

See other formats




The Capture of 11570 

Upon meeting Vice-Admiral C. V. Usborne for the first time I was 
impressed by his charm. Blue-eyed, tall, and with an athletic 
figure, he appeared to be more of the scientist than the bluff naval 
admiral, and he was still in civilian clothes. He had been placed 
upon the retired list before the War, and, he explained, the First 
Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, had invited him 
to join his personal staff with a brief to devise methods of killing 
U-boats. The situation was gravely serious, as our losses in the 
Battle of the Atlantic were steadily rising, arid failure to meet and 
overcome the situation would mean total defeat. 

Admiral Usborne had been largely responsible for the creation 
of the Fainnile Organization, an Admiralty company formed for 
the building of fast, mo tor -launches for coastal defence. He had 
also been responsible for several naval inventions, and had been 
chairman of the: committee entrusted with the development of the 
pom-pom anti-aircraft guns. His last appointment in the serving 
Navy had been as Director of Naval Intelligence. Now, having 
been appointed as Naval Adviser to Sir Dudley, he was inviting 
me to join him as assistant. 

I at once disclaim \ the specialized knowledge necessary to 
devise methods of sinking U-boats and protecting the merchant 
fleets. The Navy was not my profession. 

The Admiral waved aside my diffidence and qualms. He told 
me that some one of very high standing in the Navy had recom- 
mended me to him, 

"We want men of unconventional point of view/' he said, 
through a cloud of cigarette smoke. 

We discussed the project in some detail, and, without further 
hesitation, I accepted this splendid appointment which had come 
out of the blue. It seemed incredible that a Volunteer officer of 
just over a year's experience in the Navy should be asked to join 
the personal staff of the First Sea Lord and be employed upon the 
greatest battle of the War. 

Two days later I walked through the main building of the 
Admiralty into a fine carpeted office with desks. 

"just the two of us at first," said the Admiral, with a chuckle, 
"and we are not to acquire a private army." 

I remembered the tactics of Goodeve, but now there was to be 
do appointing of numerous officers to assist us, as we were on the 
personal staff of the Board of Admiralty. 

Our first step was to have all the walls of the room papered with 
charts of the seas of the world, with the main wall taken up by 
the Atlantic Ocean, 

"Every morning we'll stick pins in to mark the positions of 
U-boats, and every evening take them down again," said the 

My first daily task was to read copies of all the signals which 
came into the Admiralty marked to the First Sea Lord, and this 
work gave me amazing insight into the war at sea. Signals of 
battles between our ships and the U-boats were reported hour by 
hour. Fights with enemy aircraft, die routing of convoys, the 
movements of cruisers and battleships, and the position of enemy 
ships were unfolded before my eyes. Most of these signals were 
marked "Most Secret" or "Most Secret. Hush!" to the Chiefs of 
Staff, and for the first time I appreciated the scope of the vast 
machinery of the Admiralty at war. 

I also appreciated the tremendous responsibility upon the 
shoulders of one small, silver-haired man, the Chief of Naval Staff, 
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, For the first time in naval 
history the war at sea was being largely directed from his room. 
Ships were sent into action and fleets manoeuvred upon his plans 
and conceptions, Convoys were instructed to alter course or 
scatter through his Director of Trade Division, Information 
poured into the Admiralty from all sources, and, after being 
decoded, examined, and sifted, would be passed on to him; then, 
more often than not, he would take action by immediate signals to 
the command ers. 

The advent of science had changed the real centre of control, of 
sea warfare, and although Admiral Pound has been criticized in 
no small measure for his interference in actions taking place and 
forgiving orders to Flag Officers at sea, nevertheless, looking back, 
it would seem inevitable that this new system, should assert itself. 
Only the Admiralty could have the complete picture at any given 
moment, and the man in command was a strong and brilliant 



One of the first visits I made with Admiral Usborne was to the 
secret radar station at Haslemere, named H.M.S. Mercury, and 
here we met the scientists, who unfolded the latest development 
in this essentially British field of research. The inventions of asdics 
and radar were fundamental to our ultimate victory in the Battle 
of the Atlantic, and research on them was continuous, ft i s 
unnecessary in this atomic age to describe them in detail, but 
basically they depended in the case of asdics upon the reflection 
back of supersonic waves through water and in the case of radar 
upon the reflection back of electrical impulses through air, and 
the time taken to reflect, and the direction of the reflection, gave 
the distance and position of any object under water or on the 
surface. A.sdics were used in our escort and other white-ensign 
ships to locate U-boats under water, and radar was used in war- 
ships, liners, and Coastal Command aircraft to locate U-boats 
resting or travelling on the surface. Asdics naturally had much 
the shorter range. The Germans had been far behind at the out- 
break of war in these technical advances, but, unhappily, we had 
given all these electronic secrets to our French allies, and when 
France was conquered, instead of blowing up their radar instal- 
lations, they handed them over to the Germans as going concerns 
— a disaster to us of the first magnitude. 

We gathered all the information possible upon the subject, and, 
after long consideration and examination of evidence at the 
Admiralty, we came to the conclusion that the German U-boats 
were not as yet fitted with any form of radar which would aid 
them to locate either convoys or independent ships at sea. and 
this was a vital factor in the Battle of the Atlantic. One imporiant 
source of informal' i in leading the Admiralty to conclude that 
the U-boats lacked any radar system was their examination of 

On August 27, 1941, this U-boat was captured in an area south 
of Iceland by a combined operation of aircraft and surface ships. 
She was the first U-boat to be captured in the War. Hitherto every 
attempt on the part of our Intelligence to obtain the secrets of the 
U-boat had failed, as these were most jealously guarded by the 
German Navy. It was true that many U-boats had been sunk by- 
corvettes and Coastal Command aircraft — and really sunk, as the 
Admiralty committee considering accounts of each attack was 
most rigorous in its standards, and insisted upon certainty of 
evidence before deciding to write oil a U-boat. But even when 
U-boats had merely been crippled by depth-charges or gunfire 


from escort ships, and had remained afloat, the crew would line 
the deck while the captain would open the sea-cocks; as the 
U-boat sank they would all swim to the British ship and climb 
the scrambling nets lowered by kindly English sailors. In the case 
of aircraft attack the Germans escaped in their floats in the hope 
of being picked up, but the U-boat was always sunk by her crew 
before abandoning ship. 

We were in desperate need of technical information about 
U-boats. Important considerations in deciding upon the tactics to 
be used against them were their speed on the surface and when 
submerged, their turning capacity under water, and the period 
during which they could remain at sea without returning to har- 
bour. Most important of all was whether the pressure hull was 
constructed of riveted plates or consisted of one long, welded hull 
of steel. The pressure hull was, in fact, the true hull erf the U-boat, 
shaped like a cigar, with various tanks containing water and oil 
stuck like streamlined blisters on its sides, and a deck, bridge, and 
conning-tower on top. Whether it was made of steel plates, as in 
the case of our own submarines, or in one welded piece, would 
determine the area in which our depth -charges would prove lethal, 
as a welded pressure hull would prove much more resistant to 
sudden pressure of water from an explosion, and would also 
enable U-boats to submerge to greater depths. My old friend [he 
Director of Naval Construction at Bath had stoutly maintained 
that an alb welded pressure hull was impossible to produce. He 
was wrong. 

The story of [he capture of U570, a 500-tonner, is in itself an 
epic of the sea. 

U570 was built at the Blohm and Voss yards, Hamburg, and, 
with full ceremonial, commissioned on May 15, 1941. She was 
given a crew of four officers, three chief petty officers, eleven petty 
officers, and twenty-five men. That she felt proud is evidenced by 
a special photograph of her Captain, with dress sword at his side, 
standing at the salute in the conning-tower, while the Swastika 
flew over his head. No doubt this picture was reproduced through- 
out Germany to illustrate that the might and power of the German 
Navy was more than a match for the audacity of the English in 
daring to sail merchant ships across the Atlantic. 

U570 then sailed from Kiel for her trials, which were carried 
cut in Oslo Fjord. During these trials she took sudden fright on 
July 23, 1941, at an aircraft, suspected of being British, and crash- 
dived, striking a submerged reef that happened to be in the way; 



she was an unlucky craft. However, she got out of this trouble and 
returned to dock to get herself a new bow. 

On August 22 of that year Admiral Doenitz, despite the inex- 
perience of her crew, sent her out on her first patrol to the south 
of Iceland, With justifiable nervousness she dived twice to avoid 
the attentions of our aircraft, but her main difficulties appear to 
have been with machinery going wrong. These teething troubles 
were, however, smoothed out; she had more than enough petty 
officers aboard to cope with the situation. 

In the early morning of August 27 the crew of a Hudson air- 
craft from No 269 Squadron, on patrol over the Atlantic from its 
airfield in Iceland, observed the swirl of a diving U-boat. At the 
time visibility was poor, and an hour passed before a careful 
search yielded a glimpse of the enemy submarine, The pilot at 
once attacked, but his depth-charges failed to drop and the 
U-boat escaped unscathed. However, he sent wireless reports 
warning his base, which brought questing aircraft to the 

A little later in the morning U570 encountered heavy seas, and 
her crew became very seasick — so much so that a deep dive was 
called for by the Captain in order to get a steady keel and some 
respite from tossing and rolling upon the waves. About 10.50 
a.m. the Captain decided to surface in order to obtain a sight. 
Warned by his previous escapes from our aircraft, he might have 
taken the elementary precaution of ensuring through his periscope 
that it was safe to do so. He failed to do this— with the most 
lamentable consequences. 

Squadron Le" der J. H. Thompson was piloting his Hudson a ir- 
craft, "S," frfjL 269 Squadron of Coastal Command, in what 
appeared to be a completely uneventful search for this U-boat 
Beneath him rolled the foam-flecked waves, and sea and sky 
merged in one grey monotone, when, somewhat to his surprise, 
U570 surfaced immediately beneath him to take a breath of fresh 
air. The position was 62° 15' North and £8° 35' West. The gallant: 
Squadron Leader was equipped to cope with just this sort of 
emergency, and as the U-boat, sensing danger, started to crash- 
dive he dropped a stick of four depth-charges, each of 250 pounds, 
alongside her. These duly exploded, causing considerable trouble 
to U570, putting out lights and fracturing gauge glasses, through 
which sea water commenced to pour. The auxiliary lighting sys- 
tem also failed. The panic created when the raw crew p hinged 
into a turmoil of blackness caused the Captain to return to the 


surface. Squadron Leader Thompson circled, and then, having no 
pore depth-charges, opened fire with his guns. This particular 
aircraft could dive at 20 degrees from the horizontal, blazing an 
effective fire on to the target. 

The next step in the drama was when a dozen of the crew 
emerged from the conning- tower on to the bridge and, without 
making any attempt to man and fire back from their own gun, 
waved a white flag, which subsequently turned out to be the 
Captain's best dress shirt. Shortly afterwards the entire crew 
gathered on the deck. The sea was far too rough to float a raft, 
and drere was the Hudson, flying round in circles with a beautiful 
surrendered U-boat, but not quite knowing what to do with it. 
This went on during the morning, with the crew huddled miser- 
ably on the deck. Squadron Leader Thompson called on his wire- 
less for immediate assistance, and at 1.45 p.m. a Catah'na flying- 
boat from his squadron came upon the scene and relieved the 
Hudson, which must have been running short of petrol. 

The Catalina naturally did not attack the U-boat, which had 
surrendered, but as the day wore on some of the crew pulled 
themselves together and "regained some measure of composure." 
The confidential books and papers and a cipher machine were 
thrown overboard, and certain gear was smashed. A signal was 
sent to the Vice- Admiral, U-boats, giving their position, and clumsy 
attempts were made to repair damage. At 10.50 p.m. the British 
trawler Northern Chief arrived gaily on the scene, upon which all 
attempts at repair automatically ceased. 

At 5.50 a.m. the next day H.M.S. Burwell, a former United 
States destroyer, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander S. E..F. 
Woods, R.N.R., arrived to take charge, and immediately received 
this signal from U570: "Will you take off our crew?" 

The Captain of Burtvell must have done some very rapid think- 
ing. If he agreed to take off the crew of the U-boat — down she 
would go, and a glorious capture would be lost. So he replied, 
"Blow the main ballast tanks and send half your crew below." 

No reply came to his invitation, and Burwell passed a further 
signal to urge matters on: "Do not attempt to throw any papers 
overboard, and do not attempt to scuttle!" 

This, however, defeated the linguistic capacitv of Q570, who 
Mournfully replied, "What does 'scuttle' mean?" 

There is no reason to doubt that the Captain of Burwell had a 
suitable reply in the language of the sea. 

Burwell and Windermere — the latter having meanwhile crept 



up during the night—then endeavoured to low U570, but were 

Many times the U-boat signalled to BunoelL "Will you take off 
our crew — we are sinking," 

Despite these pleas for mercy, there was little likelihood of the 
U-boat sinking so long as her crew were aboard, and Burwell 
signalled at 10.30 a.m., "Blow all fuel overboard." 

There was no indication that the Captain of the U-boat was 
obeying this order, and none of her crew went below. Her tactics 
appeared clear, and she was settling deeper and deeper in the 
water. Stern warning measures were called for, and Lieutenant- 
Commander Woods ordered a burst of machine-gun fire over her 
bridge, ft should be remembered that very heavy seas were run- 
ning, and die gunner's aim, over the heads of the wretched crew 
huddled on the bridge of the U-boat, was aftected by the violent 
rolling of Burweli. As a result he fired by accident into them and 
wounded five, This mischance was the last straw, and the Ger- 
mans must have thought that they would be annihilated unless 
they immediately obeyed the orders given by the British com- 
mander. Several rushed below through the conning-tower and 
operated the valves that blew the main ballast and fuel tanks, 
and, for the first time since her capture, the U-boat floated with 
ease and buoyancy. 

The next stage in the operation was of great interest and signi- 
ficance. After several attempts to take her in tow had failed U570 
requested that her wounded should be removed. At 1.50 p.m. the 
trawler Kingston Agate, which was by now assisting, lowered a 

irley Float with two officers and ratings to take the wounded. 
This raft got alongside the U-boat, and there was immediately 
a concerted rush by her officers to save themselves, leaving their 
wounded men behind to drown. Amid the turmoil of wind and 
waves they were beaten back to the U-boat by our men in order 
that the wounded could be saved first. This action of the Germans 
was a monstrous breach of that great and honourable tradition of 
the sea which gives the wounded first consideration and insists 
that officers leave a ship last. These were the office is who had 
paraded under the Nazi ensign at Kiel! 

During the next few hours the surrounding trawlers removed all 
officers and crew to their ships, and this resulted in a loss of control 
over the U-boat, so that it took seven hours of anxious and continu- 
ous toil before a tow could be effected. As it was, the U-boat 
appeared to be slowly sinking, and there was danger that all the 



efforts and risks run would be thrown away and the prize lost. She 
was therefore towed to the nearest land, which was an estuary open 
to the Atlantic on the south-west coast of Iceland and named Thor- 
lakshbfn, and here she was beached some twenty-four hours later. 
Jt was intended to anchor her bows on to the shore, but in fact she 
beached herself broadside on. and lay heaving in the endless surf. 

On receiving this information the Admiralty took instant action 
and dispatched Lieutenant G. R. Col win, R.N., Warrant Engineer 
Giordan, and two petty officers by air to Reykjavik. They arrived 
on August 30, and next day proceeded to board U570 through the 
breaking surf. They found her on a gentle shelving beach of soft 
sand, completely open to any gale from the south-east, which, if 
it had blown up. would have smashed her. She had, in fact, been 
driven well up the shore by a moderate swell, and had a heavy 
list to starboard, which, as she lay, was towards the land. 

Upon examination, the interior of the U-boat proved to be in 
complete chaos, and as the naval team made their survey by torch- 
light the scene was almost indescribable. Gushes of oil and water 
had leaked through broken gauge glasses from internal tanks and 
mingled with quantities of provisions such as dried peas and 
beans, soft fruit, flour, and scores of loaves of black bread. This 
syrup had joined with masses of cloth and bedding to form a 
morass that was knee-deep. 

The crew's water-closet had been used as a food-store, as well 
as for its fundamental purpose, and the contents of overturned 
buckets added their quota to the fetid stench. The engine-room 
had been flooded to the deck by the removing of a strainer plate, 
and various apparatus in other parts of the U-boat had been 
smashed. There was a thrce-ineh-long split in the pressure hull on 
the port side, due to depth-charges, which also cracked 90 per 
cent, of the battery- containers, caused a bulkhead to buckle and 
the gauge glasses to break. 

The party under Lieutenant Col win, despite the difficulties, 
proceeded to make the U-boat seawoithy, and worked like galley 
slaves from Sunday afternoon, August 31, until Friday morning, 
September 5. They restored lighting and traced all air and water 
services throughout this Hamburg-cons tructcd boat. They found 
and shut off all vents and valves, blew the main ballast tanks of 
sea water with what little air-pressure remained, pumped the 
bilges dry with a small rotary pump, and finally engaged in the 
Unpleasant task of cleaning the ship of some of its filth. At 5 a.m. 
on Friday morning the salvage tug Bahama proceeded to haul the 



U-boat off the sand into deeper water, where she floated with only 
a three-degree list to starboard and slighdy down in the how, A 
corvette then brought an air-compressor alongside to complete 
the blowing of the main ballast tanks, and at 1 p.m. the passage 
by tow, through icy waters to Hvalford was commenced. During 
this passage the stench inside the vessel was still so great that the 
Lieutenant and his party preferred the extreme cold of [he bridge. 
Fortunately the weather remained favourable, and die tow was 
completed by 9.30 a.m. on the next day, Saturday. 

Intense work now commenced to make the U-boat fit to pro- 
ceed under her own power to Barrow-in-Furness. A full comple- 
ment of officers and ratings was flown over to man her, and after 
two days of sea trials she sailed for England on September 29, 
escorted by H.M.S, Saladin and flying the white ensign. She made 
a good thirteen knots on the passage, and arrived triumphantly at 
Barrow on October 3, 1941. Thus, after running hazardous risk 
from depth- charges, avoiding being scuttled by her German 
captain and crew, being salvaged by the skill and courage of 
British sailors, and finally gaining the good fortune of calm seas, 
U570 lay safely in an English dock, and every secret of the deadly 
U-boats was in the hands of the Boyal Navy. 

Never before had an enemy submarine been captured intact in 
battl The experts of the Director of Naval Construction and 
technical officers engaged in anti-U-boat warfare descended upon 
her like bees on a honey-pot. Tests of every kind were carried out, 
her instruments and machinery dissected, and full drawings pre- 
pared, and my ancient friend, the expert on armour, had half- 
scale and full-scale sections of her hull prepared to ascertain the 
lethal area of depth-charges. The pressure hull was discovered to 
be welded and of just under one -inch -thick steel at the conning- 
tower amidships, tapering to one half-inch in thickness at the bow 
and stern — a piece of superb engineering construction. 

Naturally, some of the experts desired to carry out various 
explosive experiments upon U570, but my Lords of the Admiralty 
held other views. 

"Find out everything about her," they said, in effect, "but then 
she sails as a British warship." 

Innumerable calculations were made from her instruments and 
machinery, and many of these reduced to mathematical diagrams— 
so much so that she was named the Graph, and. it was as H.M.S. 
Graph that she sailed upon her first patrol for the British Navy, 

After extensive research upon the newly christened Graph by 



D aval constructors, the hydrophone department, the electrical 
experts, the engineers, and the compass personnel she was in- 
spected by many high-ranking officers, and then duly fitted out 
for carrying on sea warfare in the Atlantic. Her subsequent history 
was not without interest. 

Before proceeding on patrols she came to the Thames Estuary, 
where I was able to examine her and meet her Captain. He was a 
young submariner, with a most refreshing grin, who held a high 
opinion of his ship and crew; he invited me below, and then pre- 
sented me witli two of her German tabs as souvenirs. During tin's 
inspection I observed that every inch of space on the internal wall 
of the pressure hull was taken up by machinery and instruments 
of one kind or another. This vivid picture of the internal conges- 
tion led to an idea which will be mentioned later. 

The Graph was ordered to patrol south of Ireland from October 
8 to 29, 1942, and in company with another submarine, Ursula, 
slipped her moorings from Holy Lock. Lieutenant P. B. Marriott, 1 
who was then her Captain, kept a sharp look-out for any of those 
ill-chances so apt to occur, but until the afternoon of the 21st 
there was nothing unusual to report. The Graph was then cruising 
in the Bay of Biscay in a position of about 44' J North and 7° 
West, with a heavy swell running and in seas which were 2500 
fathoms deep. At 3.52 p.m. the asdic indicated a large object on a 
close bearing, but, unfortunately, owing to the swell, vision 
through the periscope was brief and intermittent. 

Twenty-eight minutes later (submarine commanders are most 
precise in their timing) a four-engined Fockc-Wulf monoplane, 
pale green in colour, came drifting over Graph. Lieutenant Mar- 
riott dived rapidly, feeling that this was no time to loiter and 
watch the ripples on the waves. At this moment a loud noise, 
which seemed very near, was heard on the hydrophones; putting 
two and two together, he came to the conclusion that there was 
a U-boat in his vicinity, which had also taken fright at the Fockc- 
Wulf and crash-dived. 

Twelve minutes later Lieutenant Marriott decided to have a 
look through his periscope, and, by good fortune, obtained a 
glimpse of the enemy's conning-tower, which was painted with 
bright green paint that shone in the setting sun. After that the 
ehase was on, and, although several further glimpses were ob- 
tained of her conning-tower, the U-boat appeared to have been 
completely ignorant of the presence of a deadly foe. 

1 Afterwards Captain P. B. Marriott, D,S.O„ D.S.C., R.N. 



At 4.58 p.m. Lieutenant Marriott fired a salvo of four torpedoes 
aimed on the bearing of the U-boat, Five minutes later the U-boat 
was seen for a flash and for the last time, and one minute after 
this two of the torpedoes exploded. The two explosions were fol- 
lowed by a large variety of explosions, and very loud noises were 
heard over a prolonged period. The actual attack lasted one hour 
twenty- two minutes. 

The statements of the various members of the crew of the Graph 
materially differ, but then it is well known that several eyewit- 
nesses of a road accident will each give a different account of what 
happened. Thus the First Lieutenant heard two "bangs," The cox- 
swain in die control room asserted that he beard two torpedoes hit. 
E. A. Wardell, also in the control room, heard two "cracks." But 
Chief Petty Officer Edwards, situated in the fore-ends, distinctly 
heard four explosions in two pairs, and Leading Telegraphist 
Wilcockson, through the asdic, heard eight or nine "bangs," There 
is no doubt that, in the opinions of the men in the Graph, the 
attack put paid to the U-boat, and, examining all the evidence of 
the actors on the scene, I should have come to the conclusion that- 
all four torpedoes reached their target and exploded. 

Admiral Barry, commanding submarines, reported to the Ad- 
miralty on November 30, 1942, "From the evidence available 
there sec is little doubt that the enemy was in fact destroyed" — 
but then admirals prefer to be ultra-cautious. The Admiralty de- 
cided that this U-boat, on the evidence, was sunk. 

Now comes the twist in the story. After the War the Admiralty 
discovered from German naval records that the U-boat attacked 
on this occasion by Graph was U333, commanded by Kapitan- 
Leutnant Cremer, According to the log of the U-boat the tracks 
of the four torpedoes coming at her were seen from the periscope 
—one of them actually running along the surface. In fact, all four 
torpedoes completely missed their target, passing astern of the 
U-boat and exploding at the end of their run. The cause of their 
exploding is a mystery, but it may have been some defect in the 
pistols firing (he main charges. Thus this historic assault failed, 
and the U-boat escaped unscathed to continue her depredations 
against British merchantmen. But Graph was again unique in that 
she attacked a sister U-boat, probably built in the same yard at 

After tin's patrol Graph continued her career of active service, 
and on New Year's Day of 1943 she was to be found off the nor- 
thern coast of Norway, in a position 70" 51' North and 21 "56' East 



She had sailed from Lerwick the day before Christmas 1942, 
in the companionship of three other submarines, with orders to 
patrol off the exits from Alton Fjord, in Norway. At the time a 
convoy of fourteen ships — JW51B — was on passage to Russia, 
and the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper, accompanied by 
destroyers, had tried to attack and destroy it. This attempt was 
foiled by the gallant defence of Captain R. St V. Sherbrooke, 
R,N : 1 in command of the escort ships, who used smoke-screens 
between the enemy and the convoy. Sherbrooke was wounded in 
the engagement and awarded the Victoria Cross for this danger- 
ous exploit. The main body of the convoy arrived at Kola Inlet on 
January 3, 1943, with the Archangel detachment reaching port 
three clays later. 

The Hipper was sighted by Graph soon after 1 a.m. on New 
Year's Day of 1943, but was too far off and travelling at too fast a 
speed to enable the British submarine to deliver an attack. It 
would have been a magnificent prize for the former U-boat, 
manned by her English Captain and crew. 

However, at 4.25 a.m., Graph sighted through her periscope two 
German destroyers five miles away, and, the range having closed 
to 7000 yards, taking careful aim, she fired four torpedoes. Pro- 
longed and heavy explosions were heard, and she considered that 
two hits were secured and a destroyer was probably sunk. 

Once again, however, German records revealed after the War 
that all torpedoes missed their target and that the destroyer was 

Graph's work under the British hag continued until March 
1944, when it was decided by the Board of Admiralty that her sea 
life should close. They ordered thai she should be towed from 
Chatham to the Clyde, and there undergo shock trials before 
being finally broken up in the yards. During the tow, which 
started on the 18th of that month, she was no longer in commis- 
sion, and there was no one aboard. When she reached the west 
coast of Scotland die wind was south- westerly of force four, and 
there was a heavy swell. The wind increased to gale force, and 
the seas became heavy; faced with an ignominious end, Graph 
saw her chance and, in' the early morning of the 19th, snapped the 
towing-lines. Several ships tried to recover control of her, but 
weather conditions made it impossible. With wind and wave 
driving her on, she drifted to the rocky coast off the island of 
Islay in a position of 55°48' North and 06° 26' West. Tug Growler 
'Afterwards Roar-Admiral R. St. V, Sherbrooke, V.C, C.B., D.S.O. 



made one last attempt; to save her, bat, owing to deep draught, 
could not get close enough inshore. So Graph was wrecked on 
tile iron coast, and the sea-bed was her grave. In my chambers in 
the Temple there stands the only scale model existing of her, and 
this will one day find its way to the Imperial War Museum. For 
this submarine had proved priceless to the Admiralty and the 
Command of Western Approaches in waging the Battle of the 
Atlantic — finis coronat opus. 



"Many Inventions" 

Towards the close of 1941 and shortly after my appointment to 
the First Sea Lord's staff Admiral Usborne and I paid a state visit 
to the Command of Western Approaches at Liver Building, Liver- 
pool, from which was directed the routing and protection of all 
the Atlantic convoys, and there we met Admiral Sir Percy Noble, 
the Fl a g O ifi c er co n tr o 11 in g this or ga n i z a t i o n . 

Admiral Usborne at one time had been Captain of the Tactical 
School at Portsmouth, where sea battles were fought in miniature. 
In tliis war, however, there were no enemy fleets in the Western 
Hemisphere, and my Admiral proposed to Sir Percy a tactical 
table in U-boat warfare for commanders and officers of escort 
ships. This table would enable thern to be trained in the right 
actions to take in any circumstances that might arise. The course 
at the table would instruct them in the decisions to be made when 
the first asdic 'ping' gave warning of impending attack, and in 
the manoeuvres necessary when the U-boats gathered for the 
onslaught in packs. In fact, every sea situation that could arise in 
this form of war would be covered; it was practice at die nets 
before walking up to the pitch to face the bowling. 

Sir Percy, a quick-tempered man who, when he chose, could 
display great charm, after cons Lilting his staff, said of the pro- 
posal, "It would be a great luxury — a great luxury," 

During this visit, somewhat to my surprise, I sometimes found 
myself addressed by senior captains urging various measures for 
the Battle of the Atlantic. The magic of the First Sea Lord's name 
gave mc a status which was quite unusual, and no one was quite 
sure where I stood in the naval hierarchy. 

On our return to the Admiralty Admiral Usborne placed his 
proposal before Captain George Creasy, B.N., 1 the vigilant and 
alert Director of Anti-Submarinc Warfare. I sat in on the discus- 
sion while it was argued: Captain Creasy was at first dead against 
the project, and, as his agreement was important, the Admiral 
sought to persuade him. At the end of the argument it was clear 
1 Afterwards Admiral of die Fleet Sir George Creasy, G.CB, 




that the Captain was not convinced, but he agreed with reluc- 
tance that the table should be tried out. After it had proved itself 
of great value in the Rattle of (he Atlantic lie admitted to me, with 
that frankness that characterized his actions, how wrong he had 
been to oppose the project. 

We found the right officer to run the table, Captain j, H. 
Roberts, R.N., and he put his life and soul into it. The table, at 
Liverpool, was manned by the most glamorous and intelligent 
Wrens to be found in the Service, and every commander of escort 
ships engaged in the Rattle of the Atlantic attended the course 
with the utmost enthusiasm. 

The tactical table continued its work all through the War, deal- 
ing with each new method of attack by U-boats, and proved an 
invaluable asset in winning the convoy battles. Its inception was 
entirely due to Admiral Usborne, and its practical success to Cap- 
tain Roberts, who wore himself to a shadow by his efforts. 

On December 8, 1941, I travelled to Liverpool by the night 
train with the purpose of obtaining information from the Com- 
mand of Western Approaches. In the train 1 met Captain Charles 
A. Lockwood junior, the United States Naval Attache, and several 
other American naval officers. As we talked the air was filled with 
tragedy. The day before, the 7th, history had been made by the 
treacherous attack by the Japanese torpedo -bombers on the 
American battle fleet at Pearl Harbour. The attack was conducted 
by highdevcl bombing as well as with torpedoes, and of the capi- 
tal ships hit West Virginia and California were sunk, Oklahoma 
capsized, and Arizona was put out of action. Other ships of the 
United States Pacific fleet were wrecked and severely damaged, 
while shore establishments were set on fire and airfields destroyed. 
The loss of life was heavy. It was the greatest naval reverse ever 
suffered by the United States, but now we knew where Japan 
stood, and Hitler lost no time in declaring war upon the 

Captain Lockwood reviewed the situation with calm detach- 
ment. "Sure, they've got ahead, but well be after them in no 

The Captain, who subsequently had a distinguished career in 
the Pacific war as Admiral Commanding Submarines, was his 
country's naval representative in England, and he displayed in the 
face of the tale of calamity and disaster a sangfroid of which I 
should have been proud. From some secret hiding-place he pro- 
duced a bottle of real Scotch whisky, and we filled glasses. 



"Heres how," he muttered, and we all felt better and better. 

Early in 1942 I pondered on the detailed documents relating to 
the capture of U570, and was particularly struck by the attack 
with guns from the Hudson aircraft. There was no information as 
to what sort of guns were used, and they might have been firing 
only ordinary shell. By reason of internal congestion it would be 
impossible for the crew of a U-boat to plug even a twenty- 
millimetre hole in the pressure hull, and sea water would pour 
through in a steady stream. I proposed to Admiral Usborne that 
we should consider attack by aircraft with armour-piercing shot 
on U-boats lying on the surface. The use of radar enabled an 
aircraft to seek and find a U-boat long before the enemy was 
aware of impending attack. The use of cannon would be secon- 
dary to the main armament of depth-charges. I also discussed the 
proposal with Captain Creasy, and he urged further investigation. 

The first step was to discover an aircraft of Coastal Command 
that could dive and carry guns, and we were fortunate in discover- 
ing a Hudson fitted with two Hispano cannons. It was piloted by 
a young Squadron Leader, who flew me over the Channel to show 
how his plane could dive at twenty degrees from the horizontal. 

The next move was to test the armour-piercing cannon shot of 
Hispano guns against steel plates simulating the Graph deck. One 
important factor in this test was that there would be no water 
between the outer skin and pressure hull of a U-boat when she 
lay with tanks blown on the surface. We found by tests at Ports- 
mouth that at a range of 400 yards the shot would penetrate the 
pressure hull and make a hole of twenty millimetres in diameter. 

This was ffood, and the Admiral Commanding Submarines 
advised that such a hole would admit fourteen tons of sea water 
per hour and that six such holes could not possibly be repaired at 

We next had to ascertain the number of hits obtainable by 
cannon-fire from an aircraft on a U-boat of Graph class, and we 
arranged to do this at Leuchars Aerodrome, in Scotland. 

We "were to take with us on this trial Lieutenant Jamieson, R.N,, 
of the Anti-U-boat Department, who was acting as liaison between 
Captain Creasy and ourselves. Jamieson was an endearing youth, 
who had already been wounded in one naval action. 

Late In January 1942 Admiral Usborne and I set off for the 
aerodrome on the East Coast of Scotland, Jamieson having pre- 
ceded us. Coastal Command had arranged for the Hudson air- 
craft to be flown up and the pilot to be at our disposal. By the 


time we arrived the weather was bitterly cold, and the Admiral 
went down with a chill. After tucking him up in bed at a con- 
venient hotel on die main road leading to the airfield I went on in 
our car to carry out the experiments. 

The first thing we discovered was that the Hispano guns in the 
Hudson were clean out of alignment with the sights, and if my 
youthful pilot had located a U-boat his concentrated cannon-fire 
would have hit everywhere but the target. This error was, how- 
ever, put right by the armament officer at: the air station, and we 
then marked out the outline of a U-boat of Graph dimensions on 
the dunes and built it up with sand. The icy waves were breaking 
fifty yards away, and our sand castle was viewed with no little: 
interest and amusement by two hundred or so seals, whose black 
heads bobbed up and down just where the breakers curled up to 
fling down their spray on the yellow shore. 

We returned to the Hudson plane and prepared with loaded 
guns for the first attack on the sand Graph. Dark clouds were 
piling up all round the landscape, and snow squalls were beating 
down on the while earth. The Group Captain commanding the air 
station was in favour of abandoning the experiment until the 
weather should improve, but, stamping my frozen gum-boots on 
the iron ground, I insisted that we should go on. The pilot was 
ready for anything from hell fire to blizzard, so we decided to fly 
in between the squalls, keeping a sharp weather eye on the 

Jamie son said to me seductively with his chubby smile, "Let 
me go first, sir. I've no wife." 

"Sorry, no," I replied. 

The tradition in the Navy is that the senior officer as a rule takes 
the first risk, and, without further comment, I swung into the 
cockpit, but i did not like the look of things — not one little bit". 
Fortunately, I was not very wise as to what a snowstorm can do 
to an aircraft in flight. 

"Well, sir," said Jamieson, in consoling farewell, "it's nice lo 
have known you," 

"Thank you," I replied, and the engines roared. 

We flew round and dived on to the target at twenty degrees 
from the horizontal; then, as we landed, down came a snow squall. 

"All right, Jamieson," I said. "You can go up next." 

He grinned back, and rapidly wended his way to the taking-off 
strip, while I stayed by the target with the station officers to watch 
results. The Hudson on this flight fired both guns. We examined 



the damage and, much to my delight, found that half a dozen hits 
had been registered on the pressure hull — the test was a success. 
Every subsequent trial proved that in this form of attack shots 
would always hit a surfaced U-boat, and Jamieson's face was one 
broad smile. 

That evening 1 reported to the Admiral, and his question was, 
"Did you take tire first flight?" 

It was clear from these experiments that the gun attack should 
be on the beam of the U-boat and that it would be most effective 
fore or aft of the conning-tower, as we knew from the Graph that: 
amidships there would be some protection to the pressure hull 
from oil or ballast tanks. Admiral Usbornc and I returned to the 
Admiralty, and after receiving detailed reports from Leuchars Air 
Station I went to Coastal Command headquarters at Eastbury 
Park, Northwood. in Middlesex, to discuss the results. 

Coastal Command, under Air Chief Marshal Sir Philip Joubert, 
was in the peculiar position of belonging to the Royal Air Force 
but under the operational direction of the Navy. This position led 
to friction between the two Services, and it would have been far 
wiser to have made the command part of the Fleet Air Arm, as its 
function was to patrol the Atlantic and Home Waters. 

The day I arrived was February 19, 1942, and headquarters 
were in a state of turmoil and stress. Despite the combined 
strategy of the Navy and Air Force, the battle cruisers Scharn- 
horst and Gueisenau, with the light cruiser Prinz Eugan, had 
escaped from Brest and were steaming up channel to return to 

The German squadron won its way through despite the des- 
perate attack ten miles north of Calais of six Swordfish of the 
Fleet Air Arm, which, with their gallant Commander, Lieutenant- 
Commander E. Esmonde, were all shot down by enemy gunfire. 

From the German point of view it was a triumph of planning 
and strategy. Nevertheless, it was a great relief to us that the 
squadron could no longer threaten our Atlantic convoys from 
Brest, although in time they would have been annihilated by 
bomber attack. As I perused the newspaper headlines of this 
mortifying reverse I remembered as a schoolboy reading the 
communiques on the battle of Jutland. England assumes that 
battle at sea must always result with instant and complete victory. 

1 pressed on with the plan to equip our Coastal Command air- 
craft with a secondary armament and made a detailed investiga- 
tion into their load-carrying capacity. 




On April 23 Captain Creasy approved of our project, and the 
fitting of cannon commenced on many aircraft. These cannon were 
fixed in the nose and aimed by the diving of the plane. On May 29 
Air Chief Marshal Joubert further agreed to develop and l]\ 
cannon that would be movable and could be aimed, in the noses 
of Wellingtons, Fortresses, and Sunderland flying-boats. There- 
after the project became that of Coastal Command and the Royal 
Air Force, but I felt well satisfied with the foundation we had 
laid and the operational results obtained. 

fn March 1942 Admiral Usborne and I were asked to consider 
methods of blocking the Straits of Gibraltar to U-boats seeking to 
enter the Mediterranean and cause havoc to ships and convoys 
supplying the desert armies. The Admiral shook his head over this 
problem, but we decided to investigate the setting up of a system 
of deep mines that could be fired individually from shore upon 
the approach of a U-boat, the presence of the U-boat being de- 
tected by a chain of asdic buoys. We made many calculations and 
investigations, but came to the conclusion that the setting up of 
such a system would not be justifiable, owing to the great depth of 
water, the long-term experiments that would be required, and the 
vast cost. Our efforts had to be directed towards immediate results 
rather than to projects that would take more than a year to 
mature, and would also tie down many scientists and trained 

Admiral Usborne introduced me one afternoon to Sir James 
Somerville, who was paying a secret visit to the Admiralty. Sir 
James, stocky and dark, was most polite, but I did not think it 
desirable to mention that, upon entering the Navy, 1 had joined 
his staff and that, when he had been whipped away to the Medi- 
terranean, I had carried on for many months using his name and 
prestige to advance my projects. He was blissfully ignorant of 
these unofficial activities, though had he known of them he might 
well have dissolved into a roar of la Lighter. 

Another day, coming round a corner in the Admiralty, I crashed 
into a little Rear- Admiral with a red face and fierce blue eyes, ft 
was Sir Henry Harwood, the victor of the battle of the River 
Plate, who had been appointed an Assistant Chief of Staff. He told 
me that he felt like a fish out of water in the Admiralty. 

"This madhouse of a place!" he growled. "I want to be at 


I sympathized with his feelings, and it was clear that this fight- 
ing sailor would never be happy again until stamping his own 



quarterdeck. The sea fever ran in his blood, and not for him were 
the intricacies and whirlwinds of the Admiralty machine. 

Admiral Usborne and I were leaving Western Approaches at 
Liverpool one very early morning in April when he said, "'Think 
of something new to kill U-boats." 

I tried hard, but it was not very easy. The sowing of mines at 
the entrances to the U-boat ports would be both expensive and 
unrewarding, but I mentioned it somewhat desperately, and then, 
as we parted — for he was returning to the Admiralty by train, 
while I. was to pay a visit to my son, Christopher, in the wilds of 
Yorkshire — f said, "Why not a pattern of small bombs dropped 
from an aircraft instead of 250-pound depth-charges? One is sure 

to hit." 

Returning to London, 1 found the Admiral deeply immersed in 
Calculations. He had already drawn up a long minute upon the 
proposal I had shot out as we parted at Liverpool, and he said, 
with characteristic generosity, "I am putting you down as the 
originator of this scheme." 

The proposal, when worked out in detail, was placed in one of 
the Admiral's customary yellow jackets, and dispatched to 
Captain Creasy 's department for consideration; whereupon the 
Admiral donned his cap and departed in high good humour to 
attend to the business of building small craft for coastal defence 
at the Fair mile establishment in Surrey. Tf this gifted g end e in an 
had a weakness it was in failing fully to appreciate that for a new 
project to succeed in this war it had to be hammered out with the 
departments concerned before ever it readied them in paper form. 

Our project at once met with objection from Professor P. M. S. 
Rlackett, F.R.S., and a committee of anti- U-boat specialists over 
which he presided. Professor Blackett, tall, dark, and very serious, 
had once been a naval officer, but had turned to science, and 
become absorbed in research work on U-boat warfare. He had 
suggested a 100-pound bomb to be dropped from aircraft on 
U-boats, and the design was well on its way. We, on the other 
hand, proposed 35-pound bombs to be dropped in a line across a 
U-boat, one of which was bound to hit the craft providing it was 
surfaced or just under water. It was argued against this proposal 
that a small bomb of this nature was not powerful enough to 
destroy the submarine, and we were bound to admit the impeach- 
ment. The Professor went forward with his bomb, and, as a new 
explosive, "Torpex," of great power, had just been evolved, the 
100-pound bomb was loaded with this filling. The first operational 



experiment proved disastrous and tragic, The pilot and the aero- 
plane carrying the bomb to the target were blown to pieces by a 
premature detonation, and the despondency occasioned by the 
death of a very brave and highly skilled officer, and the failure of 
the bomb ; caused Professor Blackett to abandon this effort. So we 
were left to proeeed with our 35-pound bomb, but we still could 
not surmount the legitimate objection —that" it was not powerful 
enough. For the time being, therefore, we pursued other schemes. 

Some four months later we heard of experiments being made 
against tanks by the use of the ho How- charge principle. This prin- 
ciple was simple, and had been discovered before the War by 
Niemoller, who had used it for blasting into rock. 

The method of using the hollow charge was to place explosive 
behind a cone of steel and fire the explosive. The cone had to be 
of a certain pitch from the base to the apex, and within limits 
the thickness of the steel used in the cone was important. The 
result was that the cone, lay reason of the heat and direction of 
the explosion, would project forward as a molten jet of metal at 
about 7000 feet a second. The remarkable phenomenon of the 
projection of this molten jet of steel was that it would converge 
into a point just like rays of light passing through a burning glass 
and concentrating at a particular place. At this point of concen- 
tration the penetrating power of the molten jet was quite astound- 
ing, and a hollow charge, that could be easily contained with its 
explosive in a 35-pound bomb, would penetrate and make a clean 
hole through eight inches of steel 

The question that arose in our minds was whether this principle 
could be employed against a pressure hull such as that of Graph 
and the explosion cause lethal damage, ft should be remembered 
that the pressure hull would be largely surrounded by the ballast 
tanks of water and oil, and the molten jet Would, therefore, have 
to exert such a pressure on the oil or water in the tanks as to cause 
the pressure hull to cave in, thus making the U-boat flood and 

The Admiral and I decided that experiments would have to bo 
carried out immediately to determine the answers to these ques- 
tions, Dr Glanville, the head of the Road Research Laboratory 
and my ally in producing the invention of Plastic Armour, in- 
formed me that Colonel felferts at Whitchurch had been experi- 
menting with the hollow charge. 

Within an hour I was on the telephone lo Jcffcris, requesting 
that underwater experiments using the hollow-charge principle; 




should be instituted without delay. That same night one of his 
scientists was explaining to me the details of the first experiment. 

If the hollow-charge principle proved right it could be applied 
to the "Hedgehog" bomb 1 as well as to attacks by Coastal Com- 
mand aircraft. Information was coming in that by reason of the 
small size of this bomb it might not always prove fatal to U-boats. 
In fact, the charge in tins bomb was increased later, when a more 
powerful weapon on the same lines as "Hedgehog" was evolved, 
firing a bomb containing 300 pounds of explosive, and christened 
"Squid." Meanwhile, by instituting experiments we had, in the 
language of the mining field, staked our claim. 

Lieutenant Brinsmead, a Volunteer officer of my old depart- 
ment, was appointed to die station at Whitchurch to assist in the 
experimental work, and we went ahead. 

Brinsmead was most casual in his treatment of explosives, and, 
in fact, viewed them with some disdain. Once, while working for 
the Admiral and myself, he walked about with detonators in his 
trouser pocket and jingled them as if they were a bunch of keys. 
The detonators rightly resented this contemptuous treatment and 
exploded, and Brinsmead was in hospital for a week. Upon his 
return I threatened him with disciplinary action for wasting good 
detonators — and he jingled no more. 

The initial experiments upon the hollow-charge bomb were 
carried out in low-lying and muddy Gelds at Whitchurch. The 
fields were more or less encircled by the little village, but despite 
the constant explosions there were no complaints from residents, 
who realized the importance of the work clone at the establish- 
ment. Here "Hedgehog" had been slowly developed, and it seemed 
strange that some of the scientific experiments behind the Battle 
of the Atlantic should take place well inland by a trickling brook 
lined with willows. This brook fed the pools in which we fired 
hollow charges against underwater targets simulating the pressure 
hull of Graph, At first the results were not so good, but Brinsmead 
worked and worked on the shape of the cone, using "Torpex" as 
his explosive. 

Professor Lindemann, tall, commanding, and with a black 
moustache, would from time to time come and inspect progress, 
and his support was of vital importance: we knew that of all men 
he had, upon scientific matters, the ear of the Prime Minister, He 
Was science personified, but, in spite of his brilliance, he never 
appreciated that behind every problem lay feelings and emotions, 

l See page 27. 





and that while the world of atoms ticked upon well -settled lines 
there was also a world of human hopes and aspirations. We called 
him the "Witch Doctor," but he was to prove a staunch ally, arid 
henceforth his door in the Cabinet offices was always open to me. 

Admiral Us borne and I were constantly on the road to Whit- 
church, and finally the tests in [he field warranted a full-scale trial. 

As related, the expert in armour with great diligence had (con- 
structed full-scale sections of a pressure hull exactly modelled 
upon Graph. These were sunk off the coast of Wales, and there 
the lethal area of a 250-pound depth-charge was ascertained, ft 
was proved that against a welded -steel pressure hull of Graph 
construction such a depth-charge exploded within a radius of 
twenty feet would stave in the hull beyond any hope of repair 
while the U-boat was a I sea. Any such charge exploded within 
that distance would be fatal. 

The question was whether a 30-pound hollow-charge bomb, 
striking and exploding on the superstructure or outside tanks of 
a U-boat, would be equally deadly. When we fired the first hollow 
charge against the section of pressure hull sunk in the Welsh bay 
it failed to prove lethal, although producing splits along the 
welded seams. This result was most disappointing to Admiral 
Usborne and myself. 1 remembered, however, my failures in 
demonstrating Plastic Armour after achieving success in the 
laboratories. So Brinsmcad returned to Whitchurch to make up 
more bombs and carry out further trials in the pools fed by the 
muddy brook. 

Once again we went to the Welsh coast in order to test the new 
bomb against the sunken target, but this time, owing to urgent 
matters elsewhere calling for the attention of Admiral Usborne, 1 
was obliged to go alone. We were already in July, and still the 
bomb had not proved lethal to a U-boat target. 

The Maintenance Captain at Cardiff was stiff and unhelpful 
and refused me a Service car in which to drive to the bay. Seeing 
him at breakfast next day, I repeated the request for a fear, 
lie had no idea of die nature of my work or that 1 was on the 
personal staff of the First Sea Lord, and, 1< joking at my two and a 
lialf wavy stripes, he again ungraciously refused. 

"Very well, sir," I said, "I will inform die First Sea Lord that no 
car was available." Naturally I had no intention of doing an}' such 
thing, and departed happily in Brinsmead's little two-seater. Upon 
returning to naval headquarters in the town I was told by ^ 
sentry, "Maintenance Captain wants to speak to you urgently, sis'. 

Does he indeed, I thought, and continued on my way, although 
ratings and petty officers kept stopping to tell me of this strange 
desire of the Maintenance Captain. This fun went on for two 
hours, and Brinsmead, who lacked due reverence for high-ranking 
officers, enjoyed himself immensely. Finally I accidentally met the 
Maintenance Captain in person, and he offered me all the cars in 
the base. 

After firing the hollow charge under water against tfie Graph 
target we examined the damage, and this time found it lethal. 
The pressure hull was split by gaping holes, and no U-boat could 
have survived such treatment. 

A lethal hollow charge having been produced, the next step 
was the fusing, and this was a long and arduous job undertaken 
by Jefferis. 

In the meanwhile an important change was made in the hier- 
archy of the Admiralty. Sir Dudley Pound was finding it impos- 
sible to cope with the technical side of the Navy as well as carry 
out his vital operational work. Decisions upon new inventions and 
production difficulties were constantly called for, and at the same 
time the First Sea Lord had to keep the most vigilant eye on con- 
voys and warships at sea. He also had to advise the Prime Minis- 
ter upon the naval strategy to be adopted in all parts of the globe 
and work with the Combined Chiefs of Staff, Sir Dudley had 
borne the brunt of directing the defence against the U-boat on- 
slaught, and our convoys were still crossing the Atlantic with the 
food and materials needed by an island population at war. His was 
the firm hand on the helm, and to him much of the credit for our 
survival should go. But now he was relieved by the appointment 
in July 1942 of Admiral Sir Charles Kennedy-Purvis as Deputy 
First Sea Lord. 

Sir Charles had enjoyed a most distinguished career in the 
Navy, and had just terminated two years' service as Commander- 
in-Chief of the America and West Indies station. Burly and bluff, 
he possessed a vast knowledge of the technical side of naval war- 
fare, and it would be his function to act as First Sea Lord in this 
field, taking precedence over the other Admirals on the Board. 
Thus the burdens weighing so heavily upon Sir Dudley would be 
shared between them. It was a most happy appointment for the 
Admiralty, as the strain of intense war had produced many fric- 
tions and conflicts, and in the years to follow the broad-minded 
and benign influence of Sir Charles was to soothe ragged nerves 
arid smooth out differences. Himself no seeker of the limelight, his 



far-reaching influence gently eased the pulsating machine, and his 
humanity touched every officer and civil servant who came into 
contact with him. 

Paymaster Captain R. V. Brockman, the dark and vibrant secre- 
tary to Sir Dudley, affably suggested to me that the activities of 
Admiral Usbome and myself would in the future fall more 
naturally into die orbit of Sir Charles, 

The first invention of ours in which Sir Charles took great inter- 
est was the hollow-charge bomb, which was presenting difficulties 
in fusing. Minutes were passing between Captain Davles and our- 
selves upon the subject, and the Controller of the Navy, Vice- 
Admiral Sir Frederick Wake- Walker, a fierce and more than plain- 
spoken officer, was taking a hand. It appeared from these minutes 
that my old department was unduly concerned about who was 
responsible for the conception of the idea of using the hollow 
charge against U-boats. So f invited Sir Charles to come to 
Whitchurch and meet Jefferis. Captain Davies, upon hearing of 
this proposed visit, intimated that he wished to be in the party. 
The atmosphere of the visit was not too happy, as Captain Davies 
and I were unable to agree on the progress made with the fuse, 
and Sir Charles was a little uncertain as to which side to come 
down on. Sir Charles was, however, most impressed by Jefferis, 
who proved to be one of the technical geniuses of the War, and 
was considered as such by Churchill — no mean judge. 

The battle of the fuse, if it may be so termed, continued for 
several months more, but finally it was resolved, ancl the fuse 
passed as operating reasonably well. The bombs were now fully 
designed and ready for trials from aircraft, and these were duly 
carried out. In operational use a line of them would be dropped 
across a U-boat, so that one or more would be certain to strike 
the tanks blistered on the pressure hull. 

In order to encourage the efforts made by the Navy and 
Coastal Command to achieve success in the everlasting Battle of 
the A.dantic the Prime Minister, in November 1942, had formed a 
special Anti-U-boat Committee, functioning outside the normal 
machinery of the Admiralty, and of which he was chairman. Sir 
Stafford Cripps, the Lord Privy Seal, was deputy chairman, and 
the Admiralty were represented by the First Lord and Sir Dudley 
Pound. The Royal Air Force, the Dominions, and scientists were 
also represented, and altogether it was as high-powered a com- 
mittee as could be found in the land. Its function was to give bib 
weight and authority to the rapid introduction of new weapons and 



plans to break the menace of the nation s most deadly peril. This 
Committee could bypass all departmental machinery because of 
its great authority, and pro v eel, under the ins piling leadership 
of Churchill, a boon and blessing to the Navy. Without that 
leadership it might, however, have proved a drag. His searching 
questions and minutes galvanized the departments into immediate 
action and kept the progress of inventions and strategy under con- 
stant review. 

I was telephoned one day in December by the secretary to the 
Committee to the effect that either Admiral Usbome or I should 
attend a meeting within an hour to report progress on the bomb. 
The Admiral was out, but, fortunately, I reached him in time and 
he attended. He was not a very effective special pleader, but, with 
the support of Professor Lindemann, got through the barrage of 
rapi d - fire questions. 

"Pretty hot in there," said the Admiral ruefully to me after the 

The operational use of the bomb was carried out from the air- 
field at St Eval, in Cornwall, by Hudson aircraft of Coastal Com- 
mand. I happened to be in the operations room at the Admiralty 
at the time of the first contact made with a U-boat, and when the 
signals came through from the plane I telephoned them on to 
Professor Lindemann, who was at Oxford. The tactics we had 
devised were duly carried out by the pilot, who dropped his 
bombs athwart the U-boat, scored a hit, and left the U-boat 
motionless on the surface. The Professor was most elated as he 
received this information. After all the evidence had been ex- 
amined it seemed a reasonable conclusion that the U-boat ulti- 
mately sank. 

A second attack on a U-boat with the bombs took place a few 
days later, and again it appeared from the accounts that success 
was achieved. A great controversy now arose as to the use of the 
hollow-charge bomb as opposed to the depth-charge. In favour of 
adopting the hollow-charge bomb — because one such bomb would 
kill, and out of a line dropped abeam one at least was bound to hit 
a surfaced or just submerging U-boat — were ranged Professor 
Lindemann, Admiral Usbome, Brigadier Jefferis, and myself. 

At first the Commander-in-Chief of Coastal Command was in 
favour of the proposal, but later he changed his mind. The intro- 
duction of "Torpex" into depth-charges was giving a greater 
e xplosion than before, while the hollow-charge bomb was a little 
slow in sinking under water and striking a deeply submerged 





U-boat The most potent factor affecting his mind was, however, 
the psychological effect upon youthful pilots of the mighty explo- 
sion, with cascades of foam and spray, made by the depth-charge. 
This factor was undoubtedly important, but should not have been 
decisive. The discussions raged for several weeks in Admiralty 
departments, and, despite the powerful and valiant efforts of Pro- 
fessor Lindemann, we finally lost the day to the depth-charge. 

Looking back over the years, I still think that we were right, 
and that the 30-pound hollow- charge bomb would have been a 
more effective weapon than the depth- charge. It would nearly 
always have hit the U-boat. The Professor told me at Oxford after 
the War that he also held that opinion. 

Although during 1942 Admiral Usborne and I were largely 
engaged upon the production of the hollow-charge bomb, many 
Other enterprises called for attention, and we reported to Sir 
Dudley on these. 

Thus in January we boarded a 15,000-ton merchant ship, the 
Empire Rhodes, in the Clyde to examine and test the Admiralty 
Net Defence. From the earliest days of the dead.!}' torpedo the 
Navy had dreamt of protection from this weapon by extending 
steel nets along the sides of the ship and thus enmeshing the tor- 
pedo before it struck and exploded. As a torpedo could now travel 
by compressed air at thirty knots, and was heavy, this task was 
formidable. I remembered in 1912 seeing the nets hanging from 
the battleships of those days, but such protection was only in- 
tended for ships at anchor or moored at a base. They were then 
called Actaeon Nets from the name of the first ship fitted. Actaeon 
was a mythical hero, killed by iu's hounds for having seen Diana 
bathing; it is not certain whether the viewing was by accident or 
on purpose. 

In 1941 an entirely new system of nets was devised which 
could be dropped along the sides of a ship in motion and would 
stream out. It was considered feasible to lower and stream the 
nets from merchant ships while in convoy or proceeding inde- 
pendently during the danger period of attack by packs of U-boats. 
A commit tee. under the chairmanship of Pear- Admiral YV. Mac- 
kenzie, was formed to pursue this development, and Captain 
C. N. E. Currey, R.N., who had spent years in investigating the 
subject, was in command of the experiments at sea. 

On board the ship I again met Captain Lookwood, the Ameri- 
can Naval Attache, and with him was another American, Com- 
mander George C. Crawford; the United States Navy were keenly 

interested in these experiments. Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Blake, 
of the Royal Navy, was also present as an observer. 

Captain Lock wood was a gentleman who could never resist a 
bet If two flies were crawling up a window pane he would wager 
on which would get to the top first. lie would bet on the speed of 
a ship, a change of wind, or the possible landing of a sea-bird — 
he would bet upon anything. 

Captain Lock wood and I naturally started betting at once, 
while the two Admirals stood by as umpires. We first bet on the 
height of the mountains on the Island of Ait an, in the Firth of 
Clyde. lie won and took half a crown off me with great glee. After 
that blood was up, and nothing could happen in the ship without 
money being staked. Commander Crawford, thin and eager, felt 
that the honour of his country was in issue and Hashed at his 

" 'Ware, Captain, Have a care." 

Upon which I courteously inquired if the Captain was a grown 
man or whether the Commander had taken to baby-minding. 
After this they called me "Teddy" and bet on more than ever. 

The ship having passed by Ailsa Craig, torpedo attacks were 
launched against her by bombers of the Fleet Air Arm. I closely 
watched these aircraft and later made a few suggestions to the 
Naval Air Division at the Admiralty upon the tactics in approach- 
ing the target, We also had a submarine at our disposal to fire 

The nets were streaming, and as the dummy torpedoes struck 
they were caught in the wire mesh with their propellers madly 
churning up the water into foam and spray. If a man had touched 
one of these propellers it would have cut off his hand, and this 
was causing Captain Currey some anxiety; the Captain was a 
horny-handed sador with a rough tongue, but with infinite care 
for his ratings. Sometimes, however, torpedoes went through the 
defence nets. At other times ships would be missed even when 
steaming at about ten knots, so Lockwood, Crawford, and I bet on 
whether the torpedoes would hit or nut. At the end of the day a 
grand reckoning was made by the Admirals, I was solemnly de- 
clared the richer by five shillings and sixpence, and we all took an 
observation through the bottom of a glass. 

I came to the conclusion that there were two serious drawbacks 
to the Admiralty Net Defence. First, the streaming of the nets 
slowed the ship down to a maximum of nine knots, which would 
not matter in a seven-knot convoy, but would be serious if she 





were proceeding in a fast convoy or independently. Second, it 
was by no means certain that they would always stop a fast- 
running torpedo, and the effort to produce and maintain them 
would be very great. 

The tragic sequel remains to be told. It was decided to test the 
Net Defence in a passage across the Atlantic to Canada. The 
E — C — , a tanker of 9000 tons, was fitted with complete net 
protection, and in January 1942 she underwent rough sea trials, 
proving that under such conditions the gear operated satisfactorily 
when streamed. On February 14 she sailed from the United King- 
dom in convoy ON67, proceeding to Halifax. On board were my 
two friends, Captain Currey of our Navy and Commander Craw- 
ford of the United States Navy, but they were there only as 
observers. The complete control of the ship and her crew rested 
in the Master commanding her, and she flew the red ensign of the 
Merchant Navy. The voyage proved uneventful until Sunday, 
February 22, when the convoy was attacked by U-boats. The attack 
was beaten off by the escort ships, but resumed a day later, and it 
seems clear that the U-boats were trailing the convoy. Two ships 
were hit by torpedoes; one was the E — C — -, which received 
the blow at 4.50 a.m. At the time of being struck she was stream- 
ing her nets, and the torpedo broke through the wire and exploded 
just abaft of the bridge structure, causing a gaping hole into 
which sea water poured. Her position was 43 3 50' North and 
■43' 3S' West, and the weather was fairly good, with a south- 
westerly wind of force three. So the convoy went on whde the 
ship steamed alone under her own power at eight to nine knots, 
making for St John's harbour in Newfoundland as the nearest land. 
Then followed an episode happily unique in the glorious annals 
of the Merchant Navy. 

At 8 a.m. the same day the Master, in sole command of a tor- 
pedoed ship with fifty-one lives at stake, became drunk on whisky 
taken out: of bond. Fortunately, Captain Currey and Commander 
Crawford were aboard, and they forced him to leave the bridge 
and return to his cabin, where Currey took away the remainder of 
the whisky and threatened him with arrest. 

Here was a Master of a valuable tanker in waters infested by 
enemy submarines — torpedoed. He knowingly, wilfully, and 
deliberately drank so much intoxicating beverage that he be- 
came totally incapacitated for duty and was forced to retire 
from the bridge at a time when his ship required expert and 
able handling. 

So reported Commander Crawford. 

To remove the Master of a British merchantman from the com- 
mand of his ship at sea was perhaps the most drastic action that 
could have been taken, and it is to be wondered if anybody but 
Currey and Crawford would have dared to do this — whatever the 

It was not until five and a half hours later that the Master 
recovered sufficiently to resume command; but this was not the 
end of the disaster. Six men, including two wireless operators, 
then cast off in a lifeboat and were never heard of again; they 
perished. In Captain Currey 's opi nion the lifeboat should not have 
been allowed to go, but, as he stated, there was no discipline 
noticeable, and no ship's officers in charge. 

At 1 a.m. on February 26, and when only thirty-five miles from 
St John's, the ship began to break in two, and by 10.30 of that 
morning was floating in two halves. The oifieers chose the stern as 
giving the best chance of survival; Currey, Crawford, the Master, 
and the crew were thus marooned on half a floating hulk, while 
watching the bows drift away. After a few hours the bows sank, 
indicating the wisdom of taking up accommodation in the stern. 

The tug C — ■, manned by French Canadians, then arrived 
and picked up twenty-six of the crew, but the lifeboat, which they 
proceeded to launch to rescue the remainder, was swamped. The 
tug then vanished into the gathering gloom with a message to 
Currey and Crawford, waiting forlornly on their still floating stern, 
that she would send out help. Captain Currey thought that she 
should have stayed by the wreck, and wrote, "The Master of this 
tug displayed neither good seamanship, common sense, nor 

On Friday, February 27, II. M, trawler Si Zeno arrived, and at 
8 a.m. rescued the survivors of the ill-fated tanker. Thus, out of 
fifty-one who sailed, forty-five were saved and six died. Although 
the wreck was reported during the next few days as still floating, 
on March 5 the Flag Officer, Newfoundland, sent a signal to the 
Admiralty to abandon all hope of towing the stem portion of the 
E — ■ C — ■ to harbour, I met Currey later in New York, and he 
was quite unperturbed. Crawford was none the worse for this 
experience, and is now a Rear- Admiral in the United States Navy, 

The loss of the E — C — was a grave blow to those who had 
placed such great hopes upon the use of streamed nets to give 
protection from U-boat attacks. Nevertheless, Admiral Mackenzie 
continued to fit these nets to some merchant ships until the end of 



the War. In fact, twcnty-onc of the ships so fitted were attacked 
by torpedoes, and of these ten were untouched by reason of the 
protection given by the nets, five were damaged, and in six cases 
the nets failed and the ships were sunk. So the Admiralty Net 
Defence proved its value. 

About the beginning of July 1942 information reached me that 
Combined Operations, under the command of Vice-Admiral Lord 
Louis MoLintbatten, had prepared plans for an attack on the north 
coast of France. Exactly where and when the attack was to take 
place was a jealously guarded secret, and the plans of Combined 
Operations were not strietiy part of our business. Nevertheless, I 
knew that my old department had prepared 100,000 shields made 
of Plastic Armour. These shields were made of plates, which could 
be easily carried by troops, and could be bolted together in a 
moment in a semicircle so as to form an armoured point; from an 
aperture in the: front of the centre shield a constant fire with light 
guns could be maintained. In fact, they were movable machine- 
gun strong-points, which could be set up anywhere and moved as 
occasion demanded. They would give armoured protection to 
landing troops, although originally made for defence by the Home 
Guard in case of invasion. In a hit-and-run raid the troops would 
have to re-embark after the assault, and the retreat would be 
covered by the strong -points established by the shields, from 
which covering fire could be maintained, giving a measure of pro- 
tection. This type of raid was not like a full-scale invasion, where 
our men would press on to their objectives and hold them. The 
shields could be left behind when the soldiers re-embarked, and 
their cost would be insignificant. 

To give the assault troops such protection was of vital impor- 
tance, and there were the shields ready-made. I went to see Sir 
Stafford Cripps, the Lord Privy Seal, showed him photographs of 
the Plastic Armour shields, and explained how they should be 
used in any Combined Services operation. I pressed the matter as 
urgent, and with his rapid and incisive mind he at once appreci- 
ated the importance of my proposal and dispatched the photo- 
graphs with an explanation to Lord Louis Mountbatten. Feeling 
that the proposal could receive no stronger support than that of a 
member of the War Cabinet, I let matters rest. 

On August 12, 1942, Colonel H. V. Langley wrote to me on 
behalf of Lord Louis: 

Your suggestion . . . has been carefully considered. The prob- 
lem which is continually confronting the staff is that of weight, 



due to the strict limitations of the load-carrying capacity of 
craft used in Combined Operations. Although a shield on the 
lines you suggest would undoubtedly be an advantage it could 
only be introduced at a further sacrifice of troops and odier 
vital equipment. There is also the problem that the bulk of 
stores and ammunition in the early stages has to be man- 

On August 15 Lord Louis wrote to Sir Stafford: 

I have now been into the question of the Plastic Armour Pill 
Boxes produced by Lieutenant-Commander Terrell to which 
you drew my attention. They would undoubtedly be very use- 
ful if we took them ashore with us, but they could only be 
introduced by sacrificing space in landing-craft which has at 
present been allotted to other more vital equipment. In these 
circumstances I find there is no use we can make of this 
material in the actual assault, but, no doubt, the War Office 
are following up its use for other purposes. 

He also wrote to me on the same day regretting that Combined 
Operations had not been able to make use of my idea. 

The raid on Dieppe, although not under the command of Lord 
Louis, took place on August 19, 1942, with a main assault on the 
town itself and flank attacks on each side. The troops employed 
were largely Canadians, and there is litde doubt that, by reason 
of a number of factors, it was a failure. The element of surprise 
was never achieved, preliminary bombing of land defences was 
not carried out, and the rigidity of the plan failed to allow for the 
contingencies bound to arise in such a hazardous operation. Of 
nearly 5000 Canadian soldiers engaged some 68 per cent, became 
casualties, and of them 18 per cent, were killed or died in cap- 
tivity, 12 per cent, were wounded and later returned, and 38 per 
cent, were taken as prisoners of war. The Navy, bearing in mind 
its auxiliary role, suffered cruelly in men killed and wounded, 
amounting to 7-2 per cent, of the force engaged. Seventy-five 
officers and ratings died, 230 were missing or prisoners, and 175 
were wounded. The Air Force had 24 killed, 118 missing or 
prisoners, and 48 wounded, amounting to 13 per cent, casualties. 
It is no part of this story to give a detailed account of the raid and 
its failure. But to advance the reasoning that it paved the way for 
the landings in Sicily and Italy is only justified to the extent that 
We learned from mistakes, and does not excuse the faulty plan- 

A raid of this nature must be hazardous in the extreme, and no 
one can be certain of the outcome. I believe, however, that if my 



proposal had been adopted as part of the plan for the main assault 
on the town it might have had a material effect upon the result 
and certainly on die number of casualties. The Canadians landed 
and reached the sea-wall under comparatively little enemy fire, 
but here they paused, and this halt brought a storm of fire upon 
them a short time later. If the shields had been taken in numbers 
there would have been opportunity during the pause to erect 
them and create the strong-points capable of firing back at the 

Shocked at the sanguinary losses suffered by these soldiers, I 
went to Lord Louis's headquarters and urged once again the 
advisability of giving protection to landing troops in any com- 
mando raid on the coast of France by using these portable 
shields as strong-points. Lieutenant-Commander Erie Middleton, 
R.N.V.R., wrote from Combined Operations to nic on Septem- 
ber 9, 1942: 

I have gone into the points raised by you at our recent meet- 
ing with the following results: 

The question of using Plastic Armour shields for establishing 
strong-points was fully considered from every angle, and it 
was eventually decided that its adoption was not advisable. 
Since then, however, the matter has been reopened, and it is 
being reconsidered in the light of experience at Dieppe. The 
result of these deliberations may be to confirm the opinions you 
expressed to me. 

I never learned the outcome of these deliberations, but in any 
case there were no further raids of this nature on the north coast 
of France. Regrets were too late, and Dieppe was part of history. 

It was, however, gratifying to note that reports upon the Plastic 
Armour fitted to the Tank Landing Craft used in the raid showed 
that the armour had stood up to bullets and particularly to shell 
fragments amazingly well, without any penetration, thereby 
saving precious human lives. 


"Smoke on the Horizon 

Admiral Usborne was an officer of many parts; he was no mean 
artist, and had painted pictures of ships in which be had served; 
fie had also written books upon his naval adventures. In March 
1942, while discussing one of his works entitled Smoke on the 
Horizon, it occurred to us that here was a subject worthy of inves- 
tigation. In the First World War, and before the advent of radar, 
the first sign of an enemy warship had usually been the betraying 
plume of smoke from the funnel, and this was the more marked 
because the fleets consisted of coal-burning ships, as oil-burning 
had not been developed and was not the practice. In this war 
nearly the entire Navy burnt oil, and, with complete combustion 
of this fuel with air, such ships did not make smoke. The situation 
regarding the Merchant Fleet was entirely different, and, while 
great liners like the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary burnt oil, 
the vast majority of the merchant ships raised their steam by burn- 
ing coal of one variety or another. I had noticed at 'Hell-lire Cor- 
ner" that the East Coast convoys advertised their presence with 
bellowing clouds of the blackest hue, produced from the cheapest 
and vilest slack ever worked and won from our coalmines. We 
wondered what conditions were like in the Atlantic, where lynx- 
eyed U-boat, commanders ceaselessly searched the horizon with 
glasses for convoys or individual ships. 

A ship could be sighted from the height of the conning-tower 
of a U-boat at about twelve miles, and not much more because of 
the curvature of the earth's surface. On the other hand, the smoke 
from a ship could be sighted from such height eighty miles away. 
We drew a circle on paper twelve miles in diameter and then a 
larger one of eighty miles in diameter. A simple calculation 
showed that funnel smoke increased the chances of a ship being 
sighted from a U-boat by fifteen to one. The chances of sighting a 
convoy where several ships were smoking were even greater, as 
their smoke would unite to form one long spiral reaching into the 

We obtained from Trade Division a great number of reports 





from commodores of Atlantic convoys bitterly complaining f 
smoke emission from ships, which disclosed their position. The 
Atlantic was a vast stretch of water, and it should be feasible for 
a convoy to pass from the American to the English coast without 
being detected by U-boats — providing it did not smoke. Every 
convoy, whether outward or homeward bound, was routed by the 
Admiralty to avoid the packs of U-boats, and we had our own 
methods of determining their positions at sea — methods which 
were closely gumded secrets known only to a very few. 

The main factor influencing us to investigate the smoking of our 
convoys was the absence of radar in U-boats. The German scien- 
tists were unable to develop a set because of the low height of a 
U-boat in the water, and it appeared unlikely that they would 
ever produce an effective one drat would sweep the horizons. The 
evidence disclosed by Graph was now supported by other sources 
of information. 

1 found that my old ally Captain Selby, of Trade Division, had 
also appreciated the vital importance of eliminating the telltale 
columns of smoke, and for that purpose had formed a nebulous 
committee of scientists from the Fuel Research Station at Green- 
wich, together with members of the Ministry of War Transport. 
Having discovered that the committee existed, Admiral Usborne 
and 1 proceeded to join it As in the case of Plastic Armour, f had 
to be a little careful, for clearly smoke-elimination was a defence 
measure coming under Trade Division, and we were newcomers. 
Captain Selby, ever my friend, welcomed me, however, with open 
arms, so we drew our chips and sat in on the game. 

Mr T. F, Hurley, of the Fuel Research Station, was the chief 
Government scientist on the committee. Stolid, intelligent, and 
painstaking, he was at first a little perturbed by my intrusion, but 
soon appreciated that I intended to galvanize action. Captain 
Selby was too occupied with other defence matters to give the 
subject the attention that it deserved — in fact, proposed remedies 
and research were in a pretty chaotic condition. 

After the first meeting we realized that an increase in coal pro- 
duction in Great Britain and throughout the world was of vital 
importance. It appeared clear that the best-quality coal should he 
made available to our ocean-going ships, but, owing to the ex- 
panding war effort, this was in short supply. The best coal was 
Welsh steam, but this did not suit all ships, some of which, by 
reason of the construction of their furnaces, could steam better on, 
say, Yorkshire Hards — which made more smoke than any other fuel. 

Although responsible for the defence of our merchant ships, the 
admiralty had no conception of the coals available for them at the 
great ports of the world, and so, with a view to obtaining a com- 
plete picture of the si i nation, I invited Mr D. G. Ferguson, a 
denial businessman in charge of coal for the Ministry of Transport, 
to pay irie a cau . The Ministry clearly had a fund of information 
upon the subject, which 1 grimly extracted from Mr Ferguson by 
a series of cross-examinations. We covered the position of supplies 
f fuel in every port of importance, and further discussed the 
creation of a giant pool of Welsh steam coal at Liverpool. South 
African and Australian coal were poor from the point of view of 
ships smoking, and this raised serious problems of bunkering. 

I incorporated all the information obtainable upon the subject 
in a report to Rear-Admiral E, L. S. King, the Assistant Chief of 
Staff dealing with the U-boat menace, and he was delighted at 
receiving a world survey of the situation and passed it on to Sir 
Dudley. It was the first step to finding a solution to the problem. 

As a result of my discussion with enthusiastic Mr Ferguson an 
organization was set up to ensure that every merchant ship should 
be bunkered with the coal most suitable to its furnaces. This in- 
volved great cost, but would pay handsome dividends in the 
saving of ships from torpedoes — particularly in the Battle of the 
A dan tie. 

The next consideration was to evolve additional methods of 
eliminating funnel smoke. In the period between the World Wars 
experiments had been carried out with a view to passing the 
smoke through the sea water alongside the ship by a tube from 
the top of the funnel — this was cumbersome, expensive, and 

Mr Hurley and his baud of scientists were in favour of adding 
more oxygen to the coal burning in the furnace by forcing in extra 
air, and thus consuming the smoke in flame before it left the 
funnel. I felt that they were right, and urged them to experiment 
on these lines at Greenwich. After two or three months of trial 
and failure they produced a smoke-eliminator which was quite 
magical in its results where the ship was fitted with a forced 
draught. As fires burnt low furnaces had to be replenished with 
coal, referred to as 'green, 1 and it was then (hat great volumes of 
srnoke would rise. By the forcing in of extra air over the coal, just 
a t the right moment, this smoke would be all consumed, and not 
only would the smoke burn, but this would add to the steam heat 
obtained from the coal. 



I decided to invite the First Lord, Mr A. V. Alexander, to a 
demonstration at Greenwich, to which he readily agreed; so w e 
went down together. He was in a joyous mood that morning, and 
we talked of the Co-operative movement, of which he was a 
leading member. Suddenly he named a particular Admiral with 
an important function in the U-boat war and said, "What do yoii 
dunk of him, Commander?" 

I was obliged to answer truthfully and straight from (he shoul- 
der, "He's charming, sir, but lacks punch." 

"So I thought," rumbled the First Lord, "so I thought." He 
relapsed into silence. Perhaps I should have declined to answer 
but that would have made things worse. In any case we could riot 
afford a weak link in the Atlantic struggle. Within a week the 
Admiral in question was relieved and given another appointment, 
hut I do not think that my reply affected the position. 

The demonstration with coal -firing boilers and a stack chimney 
at the Fuel Research Station worked admirably, and the First 
Lord was satisfied that the solution of the great problem lay in 
our hands. 

"We must get Lord Leathers interested," he said to me. and so 
we arranged for the Minister of Transport also to have a demon- 
stration, and this was equally successful. 

Lord Leathers was no doubt a very good director of companies, 
but I felt that in this vital matter he needed urging on. Without 
the enthusiastic co-operation of his Ministry of Transport it would 
be by no means easy to put into practice the various measures in 
mind. So again I saw Sir Stafford Cripps, With precise intelligence 
he questioned rue in detail on what was intended to be done, and 
then agreed to give me his powerful support and discuss the full 
plan with Lord Leathers. He kept his promise to the letter, and 
from then on the Ministry of Transport gave their full b ticking. 

The next stage was to train the entire Merchant Navy boiler- 
room stokers in the correct way of firing the furnaces of coal- 
burning ships. This was a formidable task. The usual method of 
firing a furnace was to wait until the fires burnt low and then to 
fill up with quantities of 'green' coal, thereby creating clouds of 
smoke until the fuel was burnt through, It was a lazy and ineffi- 
cient way of firing — good enough for the days of peace. 

The engineers and stokers of the red-ensign ships had to be 
taught to fire coal into the furnace 'little and often 1 — the NavV 
way. We decided to construct nine instructional buses fitted out 
with model furnaces and a cinema. These would hold about f 



dozen stokers at a time, with a retired Merchant Navy engineer 
as lecturer, I had learnt when we had shot The Gun the value of 
films to drive the lesson home, but I had lost all desire to pursue 
the vocation of director, and placed the contract for making the 
film with a professional company specializing in such matters — 
Byron Pictures, Ltd. They were given all the technical material 
and produced an admirable story of a young man who passed 
through the training school, and then went onboard a cargo-vessel 
for his first trip across the Atlantic. He was taken in hand by a 
genial Scots engineer and shown how and why a ship smoked and 
die danger that followed. The film concluded with an indication 
that the new smoke-eliminators devised by Mr Hurley were about 
to he introduced into all coal-burning ships. The title of the film 
was I don't smoke, thank you. We proposed to show the lihu and 
give the lecture to the entire Merchant Navy at various ports, 

I brought one of the buses down to Whitehall and showed the 
film in the new Admiralty cinema to a distinguished audience, 
including the First Lord, Sir Dudley Pound, and Sir Charles 
Kennedy-Purvis, Sir Dudley possessed a meerschaum pipe, which 
over the years he had polished to a glossy brown. Shortly after 
the showing of the film the pipe slipped from his hand and was 
smashed to bits. This event was not without national importance, 
as Sir Dudley, without his beloved pipe, might, falter in the con- 
duct of the war at sea. A meerschaum pipe was unobtainable, but 
I remembered having in my desk a new one made by a well- 
known firm and with a lovely amber mouthpiece. This I presented 
to him — he did smoke, thank you! 

Another ingenious little instrument produced by the Fuel 
Research Station was a smoke-indicator. This was an arrange- 
ment of mirrors which reflected from the cowling of the funnel 
right down to the stokehold, so that the firemen could always see 
if they were making smoke. This invention had an excellent effect. 

I decided in June of f 942 that we needed a grand demonstration 
to all the engineers and heads of the shipping companies of what 
correct firing with the new eliminators could do: the committee 
approved of this proposal. Unhappily, our chairman, Captain 
Selby, had fallen out with Admiral Sir Frederick Dreyer, and been 
relieved of his post as Deputy Director of Trade Division. So that 
brilliant officer had joined Lord Louis Mountbatten in Combined 
Operations, where he rendered further distinguished service. 

Sir Frederick was a veteran from the First World War, ap- 
pointed to take charge of merchant- ship gunnery, and of some- 






what choleric temperament lie had as secretary Lieu tenant- 
Commander Stanley Bell, a stout, jovial Volunteer Reserve 
officer. Every other day Sir Frederick in a fury would order Bell 
out of the office, never to come back again, but Bell would always 
return, beaming, in the evening, and normal relations would be 

A new chairman to the smoke committee, Captain G. ft, Q, 
Allen, R.N., of Trade Division, was appointed. He was efficient 
but dour. He never said a word too much, but grasped the fun- 
damentals of our vast scheme. I was appointed deputy chairman 
of the committee with all the executive powers, which suited me 
very well , as it gave the substance of control. 

For the purpose of the demonstration we found a brand-now 
freighter, the Empire Toiler, so invitations to a nice sea trip down 
the Clyde were sent to some two hundred specially selected 
guests, and Admiral Us borne and I went North. 

The trial was scheduled for June 30, and I boarded the ship 
on the day before. The eliminators had already been fitted, but 
everything in the new ship appeared to be in a dreadful state of 
confusion, with men everywhere in a turmoil. I spoke dismally to 
Mr Burden, the Superintendent of the Ministry of War Transport 
in Glasgow, 

"Shell never sail to-morrow morning." 

"She will, if I have to wind her up myself," was the tense reply. 

I went dowm to the tropical stokehold and laboured with Mr 
Hurley to teach firemen the elements of firing the furnaces of a 
coal-burning ship 'little and often.' 

The ship was to be provisioned that evening with food and 
drink for the guests expected next day, but nothing had turned 
up, so f dispatched launches all over the Clyde to locate the lost 
refreshments. Engineers at sea were hungry and thirsty souls. 

At 3 a.m. a burly bearded Lieutenant in dripping oilskins re- 
ported to my cabin and stated with a merry laugh that all our 
food and drink had been taken by one of his boats to the wrong 
ship, five miles away down the loch — very humorous. 

"Get it back in time," I snarled, "or there'll be a court-martial, 
with you playing the principal part," 

His merry smile vanished and he fled. At 9 a.m., when Admiral 
Usborne and the two hundred guests came aboard and the ship 
sailed, the larder and cellar were full. 

The Empire Toiler was bunkered with best Yorkshire Hards 
coal, and I arranged with Mr Hurley that as we steamed down the 

Clvde estuary the firemen in the stokehold should be allowed to 
feed the furnaces in the worst way of firing. They heaved a great 
q tack of coal into the boilers, let it burn down to a thin bed. and 
then shovelled in another great heap. The result was that the ship 
v0 mited great black clouds of smoke through her funnel, which 
drifted over the northern banks before a gentle breeze from the 
south. Commodores of convoys, who might have been watching, 
must have raised their hands in horror and muttered the strangest 
oaths. Nothing like it had been seen on the Clyde for many a long 


Mr Hurley was in the stokehold with his galley slaves while 1 
stood on the bridge with a whistle. I could hear the caustic com- 
ments of the tough engineers and superintendents as they gazed 
at the inky clouds. Suddenly I blew my whistle, upon which a 
man stationed at the top of the engine-room repeated the signal: 
it was the order to Mr Hurley to inject full extra air into the ship's 
normal forced draught by means of the eliminators. The guests 
held their breath, and I held mine, as the eliminators had not as 
yet been died out in this newly constructed ship. In a matter of 
moments the black, billowing clouds of smoke thinned and dis- 
appeared, until the ship was steaming without a wisp. There were 
gasps of astonishment followed by a chorus of approval from the 
guests. They had never in all their long experience at sea seen 
such a sight. 

Until the first experiment had been carried out we would not 
allow inspection of the stokehold, as the firemen might have been 
upset by a rush of visitors. Now the guests climbed down the iron 
rungs to the stokehold and examined with the deepest professional 
interest the eliminators fitted to the furnaces. Mr Hurley gave a 
dry scientific exposition, but this was almost unnecessary to such 
an audience. The eliminators worked very simply, but the simplest 
inventions are the hardest to come by. 

The saloon was filled at lunch with a cheerful crowd of enthusi- 
astic engineers and the heads of the Ministry of Transport. 
Admiral Usborne sat: in at the top with Mr Mungo Campbell, of 
the Ministry, on his right. We had gained a great triumph; even 
Captain Allen told me that it was a well-planned demonstration, 
which, coming from him, was praise indeed. It was the first step 
towards winning the merchant-shipping world to the support of 
our proposals, and brought home to them the stark danger of the 
telltale smoke on the horizon. 

Upon my return to London our smoke-elimination committee 



met and approved of the fitting of eliminators to all forced- 
draught coal-burning merchant ships as a matter of the high-- 
priority. The inevitable docket to the Controller, Vice-Admiral 
Sir Frederick Wake -Walker, met with approval, and the way]? 
was taken in hand at all ports in the country. 

Thus we had started the training of me reliant- ship firemen in 
the right way of firing their boilers, and evolved a new method of 
burning smoke in ships fitted with forced draught. The coal depot 
at Liverpool was by now taking in 15,000 tons of best Welsh steam 
coal every week, and supplying most of it to the Atlantic 

But the problem was by no means solved, and one single ship 
belching smoke could endanger the safety of a convoy and the 
lives of thousands of seamen. In 1942 the U-boats were limiting 
more and more in packs, and, because of the shortage of fighting 
escort ships, the Admiralty policy was still to avoid attacks — to 
route away the convoys and ships through the great stretches of 
ocean between the North American continent and this island fort- 
ress. The time would come when the Royal Navy would protect 
every convoy with so many escorts that they could blaze defiance 
at the sea wolves: "'Follow in our wake if you dare, but attack 
and you die." 

At limes I despaired of our attaining smokeless convoys across 
the life -hue, for commodores, goaded by our instructions, were 
constantly reporting offenders. But it was too late to go back — 
the Admiralty machinery had been set in motion, ancl success in 
the scheme had to be achieved one way or the other. 

The next problem to tackle and solve was that of natural- 
draught coal-burning ships. In these ships the fires took oxygen 
from the air drawn in through vent-holes above the furnace doors. 
These vessels were the most serious offenders, and their engineers, 
when reported, would reply in despair that their ships were bound 
to smoke — which was not correct, providing the right coal was 
fired in the right way. So Mr Hurley set to work at Greenwich to 
evolve eliminators for natural- draught ships. These were designed 
to inject extra air into the furnace at the moment the coal began 
to smoke, thus again causing the smoke to burn, as in the case of 
the forced -draught boilers. The experiments pre) vet I highly suc- 
cessful, and in a short time we were fitting hundreds of ships with 
this kind of eliminator — once again a triumph for the Fact 
Research Station. 

Captain B. B. Schofield, R.N., was now Director of Trade 



Admiral Sir Charles Kermedy- 
E-'urvis oil his rtght and 
Lieulcnam-Colonel Key, of 
[he U.S. Army, on En is, left. 

(Ses Chapter 15.) 



FORTRESS B17. 1944 

(Seep, 20-!.) 

leulenaiU-Conmi under Murray, the Author, and an Air Force ArnaamcnL Ollieer. [See Chapter 15.) 





itHMHI' -HtA 

martin vast: 1-i.ytng-homb 
Note the camouflage netting against aerial attack. 


[Sec Chapter 16.) 




(See pp. 2/6-217.) 

Photograph taken by ihe auihor 




md broad smile he 


pjyision, and with his wide, round eyes 
encouraged all my efforts. 

"I've got here a very special ship sailing to Russia, Terrell, 
said one day. "'Could you fit eliminators? She smokes like mad.' 7 

"Certainly, sir," I replied, and called up Mr Hurley to examine 
her. By the time Mr Hurley came to the Admiralty I had dis- 
covered in the Register that the ship was not a coal-burner at all 
but oil-fired, and could not be fitted. 

"Dear me, dear me," said abashed Captain Schofield, when I 
gave him the details. 

Rut this incident made me realize that we also had to tackle the 
oil-fired ships. 

In September of 1942 Admiral Usborne decided to experiment in 
the opposite direction and to make smoke which would act as a 
screen for merchant ships during attacks from U-boats. The 
smoke-screen was to be produced by escort ships, which, because 
of then trained complements, were best fitted for this purpose. 
We obtained an oil -burning drum apparatus which had been 
developed by an Engineer Rear-Admiral at the Admiralty to make 
smoke on land. This apparatus was duly fitted on the poop of one 
of the corvettes belonging to Western Approaches, and Sir Percy 
Noble gave us a fleet of ships to try out the effectiveness of the 
machine. We sailed from Liverpool in order to manoeuvre in the 
Irish Sea, and at the time a full gale was blowing. We hoped, 
from die weather reports, that the wind would abate by the time 
we readied south of Ireland, where there would be sea-room. 

The corvette plunged and rolled in the heavy seas like a tiling 
demented. She was seaworthy, but lacked beauty, comfort, and 
grace. FinalJv the weather did improve sufficiently to experiment, 
Km the ,■■;':■: ;ore the smoke away, leaving the ships which were 
•to been screened naked, visible, and unashamed. The experi- 
ment was a failure, and the corvette was filthy- black and dirty 
when she steamed home. 

Nevertheless, it's an ill wind that blows nobody good, and I 
seized on the Engineer Rear-Admiral and persuaded him to 
reverse the direction of his mind and come and help stop the oil- 
burning ships from smoking. Short, stout, and rather filled with 
self-importance, he agreed to my bland suggestions and gave the 
technical advice needed to cope with od-burners. Mr Charles 
Donaldson, serving as a civilian in Trade Division, assisted us with 
his dignified counsels, and we three formed a sub-committee and 
set to work at once. I discovered numerous complaints from 



commodores of convoys reporting heavy smoking by oil-burning 
vessels and, in particular, by His Majesty's escort ships. 

The first task was to draw up a code of rules to be inflicted upon 
the engineers of oil-fired ships, whether sailing under the white 
or the red ensign. This work was more onerous than drafting an 
Act of Parliament: it had to be clear, simple, and accurate, and 
these qualities seldom attach to an Act, It took the concentrated 
effort of several sittings before we were satisfied and I could send 
a draft to the printers. 

The next step was to take effective action in every case of an 
oil-burning ship reported for smoking. This was nearly always due 
to inefficiency, but in some cases there was something wrong with 
the plant, which could be put right. Thus, on one occasion, a 
troop-carrying liner, owned by the Cuuard Company, had been 
smoking heavily in the Pacific and making herself a target for the 
Japanese Navy; her engine-room staff could do nothing to put her 
right She was in port at Melbourne, Australia, so I called a con- 
ference with the Cunard Engineer Superintendents in our room 
at the Admiralty. The technical evidence was carefully examined, 
sifted, and debated, and we were able to put a finger on the 
cause of the trouble. It was detective work of the highest order, 
and would have pleased Mr Holmes of Baker Street, the authority 
on scientific deduction, New parts were needed, so we sent signals 
to fly them to Melbourne from Adelaide, where they were in 
stock, and within a week the trooper was sailing along on her 
business without smoking. Thus the Admiralty showed its capacity 
to help our ships even on the other side of the globe. 

Meanwhile in 1942 the Battle of the Atlantic was being waged 
with ever-increasing intensity by both sides. Our radar sets in 
Coastal Command aircraft were proving deadly in locating die 
U-boat on the surface and enabling Hudsons and other planes 
to drop their depth-charges. In June the German Admiralty installed 
radar-search receivers to enable the surfaced U-boat to anticipate 
air attack and crash-dive before the aircraft could reach its target, 
These instruments were intended to pick up the radar beam sent 
out by the aircraft and so give warning to the U-boat. The Ger- 
mans were, however, unaware that we had reduced the wave- 
length of our radar from the air to one and a half metres, so 
rendering the search receivers useless. Later we reduced the 
wave-length to nine centimetres, and then even to three centi- 
metres. The German Navy were always too late to take the 
necessary counter-measures, and th is delay cost them very dear. 

"smoke on the hoeizon" 179 

So the order was given to U-boat commanders to fight it out on 
the surface against aircraft with guns fitted into the bridge and on 
die deck. Many reports of duels to the death in the Allan tic were 
coming in. We lost many of our bravest young airmen — the flower 
of the nation — but the toll of U-boats was maintained, and con- 
voys continued to reach these islands with food and die materials 
to wage war. 

Two years of warfare had taught me more than an age of peace, 
and 1 now felt able to stand upon my own legs in the Navy, My 
real profession seemed far, far away, I did, however, exercise it 
once when Brigadier Jefferis was summoned in a police-court for 
driving without insurance cover. His orderly had made a mistake 
and not renewed the insurance. This was serious, as the penalty 
would involve suspension of his driving licence for at least twelve 
months. He was working day and night at Whitchurch for the 
Admiraltv and War Cabinet on the most secret inventions, and it 
was essential that the law should not prevent him from driving his 
ear. He called upon me to defend him, but, as one brother -officer 
to another, it was to be on an honorary basis. So we held a 
law conference in his office, surrounded, not by red and black 
labelled calf, but by bombs, pistols, explosives, and drawing- 

A few days later I appeared in a police-court as counsel, but in 
naval uniform. We had agreed to plead guilty, but, as there were 
circumstances in the case which could not, in the national interest, 
be stated in court, I saw the benign magistrate in his private 
room and explained them. I then addressed the open court, while 
Brigadier Jefferis, who had never been in such a place in his life, 
Stared with troubled eyes into the distance. The magistrate bound 
him over under some obscure First Offenders Act — which I doubt 
if he had any legal right to do — the licence was saved, and the 
Brigadier triumphantly drove me in his car back to the Admiralty. 
We were relieved that not a whisper of the case appeared in an 
Understanding Press. 

At the end of this year I was promoted to the; rank of Comman- 
der and wore the golden oak-leaves, which meant so much in the 
Navy, on my cap. 

The ramifications of the plan for the elimination of smoke from 
convoys and independent sailings spread far and wide, and in 
January 1943 I decided it was time that the United States and 
Canadian Navies joined in our efforts. Success in smoke-elimina- 
tion had been only partial owing to their failure to appreciate 



what- we had done on our side of the Atlantic and take correspond- 
ing steps on their Eastern seaboard. 

I discussed the matter in detail with Mr F. P. Maclay, tempo- 
rarily serving with the Ministry of Transport, and we agreed that 
a mission should go to (he United States and Canada, and that 
I should head the mission. 

The problem involved oil-burners as well as coal -bunkered 
ships, and, while I understood in detail the scientific burning of 
coal in forced and natural draught boilers, oil-burning was out- 
side my scope. There were no technical officers at a loose end 
available, and, after some hesitation, I considered inviting the 
Engineer Rear- Admiral who had helped to draw up the rules for 
firing oil-burners to join the mission. Captain Schofield warned me 
against doing this. 

"There will be tronble if you do," he said, and apparently knew 
more than he cared to say. Again I hesitated, but could see no way 
out of the dilemma, as I mistrusted my technical knowledge. So 
the invitation was given, but it was a mistake, paid for dearly, and 
nearly led to the shipwreck of the whole mission and its vital 

Captain Schofield, appreciating that my rank as Commander 
was not high enough for the mission, proposed to the Board of 
Admiralty that I should be promoted to Captain, and this received 
the approval of Rear-Admiral Edelsten, 1 the Assistant Chief of 
Staff. But another member of the Board objected. The difference 
between members of the Board of Admiralty became somewhat 
acute, and was finally resolved by the Deputy First Sea Lord, Sir 
Charles Kennedy- Purvis, who decided that the Engineer Rear- 
Admiral and I should have equal status in the eyes of the Board of 
Admiralty, but that I should proceed as a Commander. This was 
an error. My rank was not sufficient to sustain the responsibilities, 
and the Board was expecting results without giving me the tools; 
but as a Commander I had to go and do the best in the circum- 

Our terms of reference were to; 

1. Set up in the United States and Canada an organization to 

stop dangerous smoking, flaming, and straggling of ships. 

2. Improve the quality of coal supplied on the Eastern Sea- 

board to British ships. 

3. Arrange for all ships sailing the Atlantic to be hunkered in 

the Hampton Roads, on the United States coast. 
1 After wards Admiral Sir John Hereward E dels ten, G.C.B. 



4. Negotiate United States training for our engineers in the 

operation of oil-burning and dicsel engines. 

5, Organize the fitting of coal-burners with smoke- elimination 

apparatus in the United States and Canada. 

These were formidable terms of reference, and the mission was 
considered so important that die U-boat Committee, presided over 
by Mr Churchill, was to be kept informed of progress. 

So we prepared to invade the United States with the film I 
don't smoke, thank you. We also took technical instructions, 
graphs of smoke-intensity from various ships, and other docu- 
ments, all sealed in bags so made as to sink if our ship were tor- 
pedoed. I bade farewell to my wife and son and took the night 
sleeper to Glasgow, as our ship lay in the Firth of Clyde; even on 
this short journey the Engineer Rear-Admiral, freed from the con- 
trol of Admiralty, proved fractious, but the die was cast, and we 
sailed in the cold, clear light of dawn. 



The ship we sailed in, ihe Empress of Scotland, was proceeding 
independently, and was a fat, comfortable pre-War liner of 26,000 
tons, with a maximum speed of twenty-one knots and armed with 
many guns. We had no escort, and had to rely upon our pace to 
avoid U-boats. I observed with a benevolent eye that she was 
fitted with Plastic Armour throughout, and also had the latest 
radar-set to locate any U-boat lying on the surface in wait for just 
such a prey. The ship was oil-driven, and made only a wisp of 
funnel smoke— which I viewed also with considerable approval. 
Our course was in long zigzags, leaving a festoon of white foam 
lying on the waves. 

Somewhat to my surprise, Captain Davies was aboard, pro- 
ceeding to New York to take command of a cruiser. He had left 
my old department at the Admiralty. 

The ship was 'wet' in the sense that alcoholic refreshments were 
available, and parties in the various cabins before meals were the 
order of the day. When a ship leaves land her passengers imme- 
diately become' a community to themselves and divide into sets 
and classes. At the parties, however, sailers, soldiers, and airmen 
mingled cheerfully together. We were reminded not to move 
without lifebelts, and constant boat-drill was maintained. 

Among the passengers was a young Wren officer of sweet profile. 
Her youthful husband had recently been killed when the submarine 
he commanded had sunk under depth-charge attack, but there 
was no self-pity or tears and only a firm belief in the future. 

"He is with me now, and always will be," she said, in a lew voice, 
and in the presence of such grief it would have been wrong to 
attempt clumsy words of sympathy. 

The engineer officers took me over the engines, and I studied 
the oil -burni n g system with particular care. 

On the third clay out the alarm was given and the guns opened 
fire. We could not sec the suspected U-boat, and swept on, never 
pausing— a vast bulk of steel churning its way towards the EfeW 


Aboard there were many Canadian Air Force officers, and their 
gay and debonair laughs echoed from deck to deck. There was 
also a party of Wren ratings, under the command of a woman non- 
commissioned officer, who had the greatest difficulty in control- 
ling her flock. Tbe Canadians chased the Wrens, and the Wrens 
pretended to avoid them, and matters seemed to be leading up to 
trouble. Finally, as senior officer present and to prevent the worst, 
I ordered them to be counted over in their c a bins when they 
retired at night. The Canadians were somewhat aggrieved, but 
saw the point. At New York these girls, after scampering about all 
over the ship and causing the utmost concern to their cicerone, 
were met by a Wren officer with a chin like a battle-axe and an 
eye like a hawk. They marched off the ship demurely, as if butter 
would not melt in their mouths. 

As we steamed into New York our ship was greeted with sirens 
and whisdes from all the assembled shipping in the roads, and 
even passengers of passing boats raised their hats with cheers. It 
was the American greeting to one more liner that had run the 
gauntlet and escaped the prowling U-boats, and we all felt elated 
by this affectionate reception. The Statue of Liberty looked very 
green, but very small and disappointing against the line of soaring 

As we disembarked and stepped on United States soil the 
American accent was everywhere in the turmoil of bustle and 
rush. For the first time I travelled in an American taxi-cab; built 
like one of our saloon cars, and wondered what to tip in a land 
where dre people largely lived upon tipping. The brilliant lights 
of the city were like another world after the black of London. 

We spent tbe night at the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel and reserved 
seats on the 8 a.m. train to Washington. Although the Engineer 
Rear-Admiral had asked me to be in good time, be himself was 
late, and as a result we scrambled into the train just as it was 
starting. New York Central Station was to me something quite 
new, accustomed as I was to the Victorian monstrosity of our own 
termini. The trains were all shut off from the cathedral-like hall, 
and tli ere was a strange modern design and line in the architec- 
ture; coloured porters whisked away our luggage. 

Four hours to Washington in express trains that ran every hour 
and supplied travellers with deep revolving armchairs and iced 
drinks was a service of which to be proud. As we breakfasted on 
die train an inebriated American officer came and sat opposite us. 

"They start early in this country," I said to the Rear- Admiral, 





who sat rigid with pursed lips. The other passengers were clearly 
ashamed of the drank and heaved him into another compartment. 

At Washington we reported to Admiral Sir Percy Noble, the 
Commander-in-Chief of H.M.S. Saker, the ship for the Admiralty 
Delegation in the United States, but Sir Percy never saw us, send- 
ing his Chief of Staff. This was not a good beginning, particularly 
as the Chief o£ Staff seemed mostly concerned with when our 
mission would be completed and we could return to England. 

Captain Schofield had impressed on us in London that the key 
contact in the Admiralty Delegation would be Captain H. W. 
Morey, of the Royal Navy, and after we had established our mis- 
sion in an office in the Delegation building I sought to see him to 
explain our plans and ask for the right introduction to the United 
States authorities. Three times I attempted to meet him, and each 
time failed to do so. For the first time in the War f began to feci 
that, as a Volunteer officer, I was being cold-shouldered by the 
Royal Navy, 

We met Admiral Fairfield, of the United States Navy, who was 
serving as a civilian and controlling merchant ships, but we were 
getting nowhere, and the co-operation and assistance of Sir Percy 
and his officers appeared to be lacking. 

I lunched with an engineer officer, who was a friend of my 
partner in the mission, and desperately, but unwisely, unburdened 
myself of the troubles that had befallen us. Whether my com- 
plaints were secretly reported to Sir Percy or not I do not know, 
but he sent for us both and stormed with anger, threatening to 
send us back to England. He was under a complete misapprehen- 
sion as to the scope and nature of the mission, although detailed 
signals had been sent: him from the Admiralty. 

"There's nothing new in this," he snapped at the Engineer Rear- 
Admiral, who tamely agreed. There was much in the plan that 
was very, very new, but I did not attempt any defence, and let 
the storm pass over ray head. Sir Percy in this mood might easily 
have wrecked the entire project, and the mission would then fail. 
Contrary to the orders of the Board of Admiralty, he had placed 
the Engineer Rear-Admiral in charge, and I had no means of com- 
municating direct with the Board to protest, and in any case they 
were three thousand miles away. During six years of war I never 
again found regular officers in the Navy treating Volunteers other 
than as brothers-in-arms. 

T discussed plans with the Engineer Rear- Admiral, and we re- 
turned to New York, where we visited the Ministry of Transport, 

under Sir Ashley Sparks. Sir Ashley gave us a warm welcome, and 
n March 17 we gave a lecture on die Admiralty plan for smoke- 
elimination to an audience which included nine coal-suppliers 
a iid the heads of seven great shipping lines. Sir Ashley went out 
of his way to felicitate me upon my speech, and said that it had a 
very marked effect. This was the real start of our missionary work. 

There was a white-ensign club for British naval officers at the 
Barbizon-Plaza Hotel, and there I met Pat Wheel serving tea, a 
charming and veiy beautiful American girl of eighteen with dark 
velvet eyes. She took me in hand to explore New York, where she 
was born and bred. Her father, mother, and sisters were all 
strongly pro-British, and f could not have fallen into happier 
company. Pat's dream was to be a great actress, but I told her she 
would more likely be a great disturber of hearts; she had no objec- 
tion, but said that the two could go together. 

Trouble with the Engineer Rear- Admiral was now really start- 
ing. He spent a great deal of time arranging dinners and parties 
and this left me to make all die arrangements for meetings with 
the Americans responsible for merchant ships. We gained much 
sympathetic support, and, as one grizzled head observed, "This 
has been overlooked on our side of the Atlantic," 

While in New York I wrote a secret letter to Admiral Usborne, 
and gave it to a British naval officer flying over to England to 
deliver. This letter explained in guarded language some of the 
difficulties facing me. and the Admiral told me afterwards that he 
had immediately shown it to members of the Board and that. 
action was taken. 

We returned to Washington, where, on April 2, we gave a talk 
and showed our films to American naval officers at the Public 
Health building. We were introduced at the meeting by Captain 
Morey, and genial and kindly Vice-Admiral Sir Wilfred French 
was there on behalf of the Navy. Mr N. W. Jackson, a wiry and 
astute American, represented the War Shipping Administration, 
and proved a tower of strength. 

I had brought with me a letter of introduction from the 
Attorney-General, Sir Donald Somervell, 1 to the President of the 
American Bar Association, and so found myself a guest of honour 
of the Columbia Bar Association at Washington, During dinner one 
senior member suddenly said to me, "Commander, if there is any- 
thing yon want from the United States tell us, and we'll get it." 

Later in the evening I was taken to a reception and introduced 

1 Afterwards the Right Hon, Lord Justice Somervell. 





by the President "as lent to the Royal Navy." Then, amid applause 
and under a spotlight, I rose and bowed. 

That night Washington tried out its first blackout — amid giggles 
and laughter from the population. We were not impressed with this 
amateurish attempt, having spent two years with the real tiling. 

Walking to the Lee S her item Hotel through the broad avenue 
leading from the Admiralty Delegation building, I met some 
sparkling Wave Officers, smart as fresh paint, and could but 
observe, as they punctiliously saluted, that, like our own Wrens, 
they were all hand-picked. 

Next day 1 walked into the British Admiralty Delegation build- 
ing, and there, to my profound astonishment and delight, was 
smiling Captain SchoGeld with outstretched hand. 

"Thought I'd look over," he said casually, "and sec what the 
lovelies are like." 

Wc lunched together, and, without attaching blame to anyone, 
I gave him the true position. He told me that he had already told 
Admiral Noble that the scheme for smoke-elimination was most 
important and had the backing of the U-boat Commit tee. 

"Go ahead," he said. "You'll get the support you need." 

The change in Captain Morey's attitude was miraculous, and 
when Admiral Noble's Chief of Staff came in to inquire when we 
were returning to England he at once replied, "He's doing far too 
important work even to consider that now." 

Captain Morey arranged for me to meet Captain Lawson and 
Commanders Cleave and Earle of the United States Navy. Impor- 
tant results followed from this meeting and materially affected the 
ships of Great Britain and America in the Battle of the Atlantic, 
as will be told later. 

I had an entertainment allowance from the Admiralty, but, try 
as I would, it was hardly ever used. My uniform called forth spon- 
taneous offers of hospitality from complete strangers. 

Once, while dining at Harvey's famous sea-food restaurant in 
Washington and wailing for a table, a coloured waiter came with 
an invitation to join a gentleman at the far end of the saloon. I 
joined him, and, despite protests, he insisted on paying for dinner. 
He asked if I was going to New York, and I told him I was going 
there next day. 

'Til be on the train," he said, with a smile. There he was, sure 
enough, and we bad lunch together. He placed his apartment in 
New York at my disposal, and added that his wife, who was sus- 
ceptible to naval oiliccrs, would be delighted to look after me. 

J decided that discretion was the better part of valour and reluc- 
tantly declined the offer, but sometimes I have pondered on the 
charms of the lady I never met, 

I was introduced to the Officers' Club at Delmonico's Hotel in 
New York. The Club was founded by Mrs Amelia Hull, and ladies 
of New York acted as hostesses to die war-worn officers from 
Europe. The first sight of the glittering ballroom, filled with 
American girls in evening dresses, brought back a nostalgic 
vision of England before the War— it seemed years ago. These 
girls talked, danced, and entertained us; many had husbands serv- 
ing in England, and 1 received numerous affectionate messages to 
take back. I made friends with Mr and Mrs Jameson and dined 
frequently at their beautiful New York home. Their daughter was 
married, to an American naval ofheer, and, on hearing of his ship 
arriving in California, she took a toothbrush and sponge-bag and 
flashed^ oil to meet him — two thousand miles away. Later that 
year came the sad news diat he had been killed in action against 
the Japanese. 

The admiration of these people for England had never reached 
such heights. The winning of the Battle of Britain had astounded 
them, and slowly it had penetrated that the victory had saved the 
free world from a menace more due than any before. 

In April. I agreed with the Engineer Rear-Admiral to give a 
lecture on smoke-elimination to trie Yugoslav, Dutch, and Nor- 
wegian shipping missions to the United States. The audience was 
to be composed of the heads of the missions and the captains and 
chief engineers of ships in harbour — some eighty most important 
people. There were high hopes of success, and Mr Trevor Phillips, 
the coal expert to the Ministry of Transport, with whom I had held 
many vital discussions on the supply of coal to British ships, 
engaged a film studio for us in Seventh Avenue. The lecture and 
demonstration were due to start at 5.45 p.m. on April 9, and the 
Rear-Admiral was told of the importance of the matter and given 
every detail. In the afternoon he sent a message that he was bring- 
ing two lady visitors — an indiscretion which shook me. But when 
the audience assembled punctually in their seats there was no 
Rear-Admiral. I waited until 6.5 p.m., and then gave the impatient 
visitors the lecture and showed our films. Suddenly there burst in 
the little man, using language that was inexcusable; at the end of 
the film be apologized to the audience for being detained by a 

This unfortunate episode was the last straw. 1 wrote out a 



report in detail, showed it to him, and stated that, cost what it 
might, it was going officially to Sir Percy Noble and the Admirahy 
I immediately returned to Washington, where 1 met Captain Scho- 
field and showed him this report. 

"Leave the matter to me," said die Captain. "1 have iny own 
means of communicating with the Admiralty. 

Captain Schofield was as good as his word, and within three 
days imperative orders came from the Board of Admirahy for the 
immediate return of the Engineer Rear-Admiral to London; to 
the eternal credit of Captain Schofield, he never said to me^ "I 
told yon so." 

I was to carry on with the mission alone, but by now the oil- 
burning problems were proving much less difficult 'than they had 
seemed at first. I never saw Sir Percy Noble again until after the 
War, when he frankly admitted his misconception of the situation. 

Back in Washington 1 called on Mr Nicholas Roosevelt and his 
vivacious lady wife, with a letter of introduction from Mrs Hull. 
He was cousin to the President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 
charge of an important war department. Over broiled lobsters and 
a vintage claret at the celebrated New Orleans restaurant we 
discussed the future. Mr Roosevelt was deeply pessimistic of 
American youth, and regarded them as decadent, but every 
generation thinks this of the very young. They warned me that 
New York was not America, and that to learn the American way 
of life one should go South. We talked until the late hours, and 
the charm of their cultured speech remained with me for many a 
long day. 

The shipping interests were all in New York, so there once again 
I returned with all dispatch. The country along the line was 
beginning to wear a familiar aspect, but now I was accustomed 
to the rear observation car, where travellers gathered to tell one 
another their life-stories and spittoons were plentifull y displayed 
and, indeed, used. The coloured car attendant with die latest copy 
of Esquire was part of the scene. 

On Easter Sunday morning I rested in a bed covered with news- 
papers of vast proportions, studying the sizzling and crackling 
headlines, and wondered whether all American editors got brain- 

The electric subway in New York was much inferior to the 
London Underground. Despite its frequent express trains, it was 
noisier, die carriages rattled more, and it was far less clean. Once 
down town a man threw himself on the line in front of an 



oncoming train, but, fortunately, he fell in the gap between the 
wheels and the platform, and so was very nearly unhurt. My 
name was taken as a witness, and 1 made a statement; as a result, 
ff hen back in England, I received a regular flow of letter's request- 
ing my presence at an attorney's office in New York to support 
a claim the man had made, but by then it was a bit far to go back. 

Wandering round the waterfront in New York, I suddenly came 
upon a large statue of an English judge in his robes and full- 
bottomed wig. It was intriguing to discover from the inscription 
that he was the last Recorder of New York when the United States 
was still an English colony. The city had preserved it as a relic of 
the past. 

I continued work with the various shipping missions and ship- 
owners, spending the evenings at the Officers' Club or visiting 
New Yorkers in their homes. 

One evening Mrs Hull announced that she was introducing me 
to a British admiral. Intrigued as to the identity of this officer, I 
went to her apartment, and there, to my surprise, found Admiral 
Usbornc, who had come over in a convoy carrying out anti-U-boat 
experiments; we dined on a magnificent cold turkey. 

My son, Christopher, was passing his childhood in an England 
devoid of toys, and I paid a visit to Macey's, the great store, where 
nearly all available dollars were expended on toy trains and 
games. My friends in England had given me a list of urgent 
requirements before sailing. Lady Kennedy-Purvis, the wife of 
the Deputy First Sea Lord, wanted a particular brand of Max 
Factor lipstick, my own wife needed silk stockings, while watches 
and small pieces of inexpensive jewellery were much in demand. 
I was at my wits' end to find all these articles, but the silk- 
stockings problem was solved by a vendor coming into Trevor 
Phillips's office and offering a dozen pairs. 

"Even in New York these things are like gold-dust," said his 
calm and efficient secretary. "You take them." 

One night, when walking back to the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel, I 
was stopped in a lonely road by a seedy-looking stranger, who 
pulled out a large cheque-book and demanded change lor a 
cheque. While making his proposition he kept glancing nervously 
over his shoulder to see if a 'cop' was coming. 1 was intrigued at 
tnis sudden encounter with a member of the famous underworld 
°f New York, but decided that the commercial risk was too great 
tor a naval officer to accept. No gun — 'rod* was the technical 
e xpression — was drawn to add punch to the hold-up, and he did 



not seem to mind the refusal, but slunk quietly back into the night, 

Suddenly, like the bursting of a delayed-action bomb, the meet- 
ing with Captain Lawson and his brother-officers of the United 
States Navy produced results. The American Navy never did 
things by halves, and, when convinced that something was right, 
went all out for it. The Navy Department sent a signal to the 
Admiralty in London that any ship which smoked unduly, whether 
coal-burning or oil-driven, should be turned out of the convoy to 
proceed independently as best she could to the port of destina- 
tion. Such a ship would no longer have protection from escort 
ships, and, with a maximum speed of perhaps twelve knots, would 
be a sitting target for U-boats, This drastic order was virtually 
sentence of death upon an offender against the new laws we had 

No allowance was made for the many coal-burners not fitted 
with eliminators, nor for inferior fuel. The Merchant Navy was 
still largely untrained in firing boilers so as not to make 
smoke, and many ships were in need of engine-room repairs. 
Reverberations reached us of protests from London against the 
order, and eventually the American Navy Department realized 
that the measure was too harsh, and modified it by proposing 
that every ship that offended by smoking at sea should be reported 
immediately and sent to the nearest dockyard for examination 
and engine-room overhaul. This proposal, although adding to the 
heavy burden of the dockyards, was acceptable to the Admiralty, 
and was the directive really aimed at. It was a great step towards 
achieving invisibility for the Adantic convoys, and put the 
Merchant Navies right on their toes. 

It was now time to proceed to Canada, and early in the morn- 
ing of May 10 I crossed the border, having said farewell to Mrs 
Hull and the ladies at Delmonico's; at the station Pat Wheel had 
pressed into my hand a book on New York and her good-bye 

Entering Canada lor the first time was like entering England— 
it was England. Behind was the speed and rush of the States, 
geared like a high-powered racing-machine, but here was die 
peace and calm of our ow-n people. The demeanour, the accent, 
and the clothes of the men and women at the Canadian station 
were English. 

The first step to be taken in Canada was to report to Naval 
Headquarters at Ottawa. This fine city was some seven hundred 
miles from the seaboard where the Battle of the Atlantic was 



being waged. Here I discussed plans with Captain E. S. Brand, 
toe English naval representative for merchant shipping, and he 
gave every kind of support and assistance. He proposed that the 
mission should go down the river St Lawrence right up to the 
Eastern seaboard, and that, rather than work with the Navy, it 
would be preferable to operate through the Ministry of War 
Transport, who were primarily responsible for merchant ships. 

The warm reception and friendly assistance given at these head- 
quarters were in marked contrast to the cold atmosphere prevail- 
ing at the Admiralty Delegation at Washington. Brand had 
already received reports of the smoke -elimination activities I had 
carried on in the States, and he was clearly most impressed. My 
loyal supporter, Captain Schofield, must have put in his oar before 
flying back to England. 

On May 11 I travelled to my first port of call, Montreal, a new 
city humming with the vibrant urge of Canada to develop her 

Here I met Mr W. M. Karkpalrick, the head of the Ministry of 
War Transport Organization, and his civilian officers. The organi- 
zation had. at the commencement of the War, been created from 
scratch by his former chief, who unhappily had recently died, and 
in structure and personnel bore all the marks of a first-class piece 
of work. The men staffing it were bound together as a team of 
friends whose sole aim was to render all possible assistance to the 
mother country in her hour of danger, and their enthusiasm and 
loyal co-operation came like a blast of fresh air. 

We agreed that training-schools for firemen should be estab- 
lished at once in the ports of Montreal; St John in New Brunswick, 
Halifax, and Vancouver. These schools would be equipped with 
instructors, boilers, and films, and a special appeal would be 
made to the youth of Canada to join and so play a vital role in the 
battle against the U-boats. Mr Kirkpatriek foresaw a steady flow 
of the best lads from city, farm, and wheat-growing prairie, and 
it was clear that he and his assistants had been only waiting word 
from the Admiralty to put such plans into operation. 

I addressed a great meeting of masters, ships' officers, and 
engineers, and they sat in silence to the end, when they broke into 
gusts of applause. Never during the whole mission had I felt so 
happy at the result, but the credit for this success should have 
gone to the man who had died and bequeathed us Mr Kirkpatriek 
and the staff. 

One night in the hotel at Montreal a man was caught endeav- 






ouring to force the door of my room, where secret Admiralty 
documents were locked away. The hotel detective had been i lv 
formed of the presence of the papers, and he had kept faithful 
watch and ward. The prisoner, lean and dark, was marched off to 
police custody. Spy or thief, no more was heard of him. Never- 
theless, after this incident, every one connected with the Navy 
was ultra-cautious about papers. 

One evening, while I was smoking an after-dinner pipe in the 
hotel lounge, a little white-haired old gentleman came up to nie 
with an official letter and the posthumous decoration of his only 
son, recendy killed in action. Was it right to wear, for once, his 
sons decoration at a ceremonial occasion to take phace next day? 
I gently replied that it must be very, very right, and that the King 
and his son would both wish it so, and he walked away with a 
quiet radiance on his face. 

As a child I could speak French before I learned English, and 
at Montreal it was queer to walk into a restaurant and hear every 
one speaking as pure a French as ever came from Bio is — a re- 
minder that this country was once part of France, Outside 
Montreal the French spoken was no longer pure, but a bastard 
patois by no means easy to understand. The French -Canadians 
were a vital political factor in nearly the whole country and, for- 
tunately, solidly with us in our war aims. 

Upon my return to Ottawa Captain Brand agreed that a direc- 
tive be sent to all Canadian ports emphasizing the supreme impor- 
tance of not giving away a ship's position by a telltale column of 
smoke, and repeating the orders given by the American Navy 

While at Ottawa the head of the Ministry of Transport took me 
thirty miles by road to Prcscott, and here, surrounded by woods, 
was stationed an establishment on a small scale for training young 
firemen for the Canadian ships. These lads had never seen waters 
larger than a river or lake, and they were obviously thrilled to 
meet a British Naval Commander and hear a first-hand account 
of the battle for the life-line to England. 

It was decided that I should bypass Quebec, as the number of 
ships stopping there was few and time was precious — so straight 
on to St John in New Brunswick and the Bay of Fundy. The train 
snorted along over sleepers cracked and split by snows and frosts 
and through vast tracks of wheatland on a scale not known to us 
poor islanders. On the way through New Brunswick we passed 
hundreds of square miles of virgin forest untouched by the 

g roCKTT bomb in 



K^' 1945 

{S , e pp. 220-221.) 






These shelters would have destroyed London. 

(See pp. 214-215.) 

Lower left: A JEST in the 


CALAIS, 1945 

The auLhor with li scientist. The penetration 
was twenty -one feet. (See pp. 220-221.) 

Lower right: the inscription in 


DE CALAIS, 1945 

[See pp, 220-22/.) 


h.m.s. HI 87, 1945 

{See pp. 222-223.) 



J e vastating hand of man— it was a land of pines, fir-trees, and 
re3 t roaring, rushing rivers. 

At St John many of our Atlantic convoys were anchored, and 
here I was greeted by Mr V, Forrester, of the Ministry. He 
took me to dine at his house at Rothesay, so named by King 
gfjward VII when Prince of Wales, because the lake and hills 
were twin to Rothesay in Scotland. 

I boarded the Ocean Vicar, in the roads as a notoriously evil 
smoker, and, after examining her stokehold, pointed out to her 
engineer that the first essentials to not smoking were to have fur- 
nace doors thai: shut, boiler tubes that were not corroded, and 
coal that was not cheap slack. The ship went in for an immediate 


Mr Forrester hired the Strand Cinema at St John for our lecture, 
and we filled it to capacity from the ships. 

n _on — to Halifax, where I was received by Rear- Admiral 
L. W. Murray, Commander-in-Chief of Canadian North-West 
Approaches, and also by Mr C. E. Bryant, of the Ministry, The 
Commander-in-Chief was very youthful to hold such a responsible 
position, but then Canada was a new land and her Navy was very 
young, although rapidly growing to great strength, cunning, and 
skill in the Atlantic warfare. 1 addressed a great meeting of 
masters and engineers at which Mr Rryant took the chair and the 
Admiral made a speech. There must have been four hundred 
present, and each was a tough, hardened sailor or engineer. As my 
last words died away, followed by applause, I could but feel 
proud of the opportunity given me. 

This was the end of the mission for the Board of Admiralty, and 
I received orders to embark on the Queen Mary and sail back to 
England, so I flew back from Halifax to New York, where she was 
due to dock, to spend one last week-end under the Stars and 

My luggage had gone on by train addressed to the Barbizon- 
Plaza Hotel, and it should have been at the central depot in New 
York to pass through the Customs. Alas! no luggage, and the 
American office sought for it from New York to Vancouver with- 
out success. All my presents were stowed away in it, and I re- 
turned desolate to the Barbizon-Plaza. There it was, quietly sitting 
a nd awaiting my arrival — the official channels had been by- 

That night I repaired for the last time to Dclmonico's, where 
Mrs Hull, Barbara her daughter, Eunice, and Pat greeted me with 







Surprise and friendly, unfeigned pleasure. The mission was over 
and the evening was a naval occasion. 

On )une 30 I sailed in the Queen Mary for England. The great 
liner throbbed along at twenty- eight knots, and carried 20,000 
American troops on board, bound for the liberation of Europe. 

In the chart-house I talked with her Commander, Captain C. C, 
Illingworth, R.N.B., 1 and he described that ill-fated day, Octo- 
ber 2, 1942, when, while proceeding at full speed to the Clyde, his 
great ship cut H.M.S. Curagoa in two as a knife chops through a 

He poured drinks and sbowed me on the chart how the tragedy 
happened. The collision occurred at latitude 55° 51' North and 
longitude 8 :) 38' West, just north of Ireland, in an area infested by 
U-boats. The Curagoa, with twenty-five knots as her maximum 
speed, was a C-class cruiser of 4090 tons, as compared with the 
Queans 81,000 tons. She was commanded by Captain John Bout- 
wood, R.N., had a complement of nearly 500 men, and was 
equipped for anti-aircraft defence as well as U-boat attack. 

The duty of the Curagoa was to escort fee Queen, which was 
carrying 11,000 men of the United States Army. The Queen was 
zigzagging in a rough sea and overhauling the Curagoa on her 
port side. There was a screen of six destroyers some miles away, 
but otherwise the two ships were alone. At 2 p.m., in clear weather 
and when Captain Illingworth was not on the bridge, errors in 
steering were made, and the Queen cut off the stern of the 
Curagoa, striking on the port side, but only slightly damaging 
her own stem. The cruiser sank in a matter of moments like a 
lump of lead. Her Captain, one officer, and 88 other ranks were 
saved, but 370 British seamen perished. The Queen Mary went on 
zigzagging at twenty-eight knots, never pausing, never stopping, 
and leaving in her wake a trail of disaster, 

"I ordered her to go on," said Captain Illingworth, with his eyes 
blazing, "and left (hose poor devils to drown. God rest their 
souls." He hit the chart table with his clenched hand. "So long as 
I command the Queen she will never stop at sea till her screws 
can't turn — whatever happens." 

He was right — very right. The Queen carried 11,000 precious 
American lives, apart from her own tremendous value in the war 
effort, and if she had stopped she would have been a floating hay- 
stack for prowling U-boats or bombers. But this decision to leave 
British sailors to drown was one of the most cruel and harsh 
1 Afterwards Captain Sir Cordon Illingworth, R.N.R. 

fjui'dens ever placed on the shoulders of a sea captain by the stern 
necessities of war. Kindly Captain Illingworth would have to carry 
the memory of what he had done to the grave. 

After the War, in an action for damages by the Admiralty 
against the Cimard Company, the House of Lords, upholding the 
majority of judges in the Court of Appeal, held that the Curagoa 
vvas two -thirds to blame and the Queen Mary one- third to blame 
for the collision. This reversed the decision of Mr Justice Pilcher, 
v/ho had held the Curagoa solely at fault. 

During the voyage to die Clyde I prepared detailed reports for 
the Board of Admiralty on the results of the mission and these 
reports are now in their archives. When, after four days, the green 
coasdine of Ireland first showed on the starboard bow the young 
American troops lined the rails and climbed on the lifeboats in 
wild excitement. They came from nearly every stale, the sea-girt 
provinces and the Middle West farmlands. 

Landing at Glasgow, I took the night train to London, arriving 
at 6 a.m. at our house. 

My son, Christopher, flung himself down the stairs on to me, 
and then spent the remainder of the morning in a detailed ex- 
amination of toy after toy — it was an embarras de richesses. 

In the afternoon I went to the Admiralty and found that the 
Department of National Defence, Ottawa, had reported direct to 
the Board: 

It is felt that Commander Terrell's visit was of the utmost 
value — you may rest assured that everything which can pos- 
sibly be done in Canada to co-operate in the reduction of smoke 
will be done. 

Rear- Admiral Ed els ten, with marked emphasis, approved of my 
reports, and the Deputy First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Charles 
Kennedy-Purvis, minuted that very good work had been done and 
that I had successfully carried out instructions. A little later Sir 
Charles asked me for details of my troubles in the States with the 
Engineer Rear- Admiral. I was compelled to give some account, 
but kept it very brief. 

The operation of rendering our convoys and independent ships 
as nearly invisible as possible had now acquired great force and 
weight, but we could not rest until the entire engine-room per- 
sonnel of all Allied merchant ships were trained and eliminators 
fitted throughout. 

Our carefully drafted code of instructions for coal-burners was 



translated into Urdu, Gujarati, and many other languages. These 
translations were set out on large cards like poems and surrounded 
by coloured pictures. The cards were to dangle in every stoke 

"We only need a few native 'pin-up' girls stuck on," said 
austere Mr Charles Donaldson, "and the battle's won." 

My old companion of Plastic Armour days, Lieutenant 
Commander Hind, was selected to carry on our work in India and 
obtain the best coal for our ships bunkering at Indian ports, train 
the coloured firemen, and install eliminators. He faithfully carried 
out this work and stirred up the Indian naval authorities from the 
lethargic state into which they seemed to have fallen. 

The organization thus created now ran under its own steam 
until the end of the War, and no longer needed a controlling hand. 
It had been a joy to start the scheme and to be the piston that 
drove the wheels forward. The Deputy First Sea Lord expressed 
the view that many ships and the lives of many seamen had been 
saved by smoke-elimination, and, although there was nothing 
spectacular about it, our novel enterprise played an important role 
in the Battle of the Atlantic. In his speech in the House of Com- 
mons on the Navy Estimates the First Lord made a statement on 
the results obtained. 


The Rocket Bomb 

The Battle of the Atlantic was continuous, and when I returned to 
the Admiralty my first step was to resume contact with the pro- 
gress being made. I visited the War Room, presided over by tall 
and distinguished Captain Richard Pirn, R.N.V.Rd On the walls 
every secret of the naval and military situation was disclosed on 
charts and maps, and admission was strictly barred save to a 
favoured few. News would come from all parts of the globe, and 
die information would be resolved into pins and Hags, Should 
Allied officers, however high their rank, be admitted, certain very 
secret charts would be veiled from their sight. 

Captain Pirn was in constant attendance on Mr Churchill on his 
flights abroad to meet the President or Stalin. We became great 
friends, and I spent many an hour in his sanctuary discussing 

About this time news reached us that the German Navy was 
experimenting with "Schnorkel," the deep -breathing tube that 
would enable a U-boat to travel under water on its diesel engines 
instead of batteries, and thus gready increase its speed to some 
eighteen knots beneath the surface. Admiral Usbome was deeply 
anxious about this development as the increased speed would 
upset the entire strategy of our naval forces and might easily 
prove a decisive factor in the Atlantic. Fortunately, D-day came 
before this revolutionary invention was perfected and came into 
general operation. 

In July of 1943 I became in teres ted in the camouflage of mer- 
chant ships at night by diffused lighting. The loss of ships by night- 
attack from U-boats was serious, and early in 1.941 Professor E. 
Godfrey Burr had proposed to the Canadian Navy a system of 
lighting with electric bulbs and screens so that the ship, which 
stood out darker than its background of sky or sea at night, should 
pe illuminated, and so blend with the background as to become 
'^visible to the searching eyes of a U-boat commander trailing 
a convoy. In March 1941 Churchill had been so impressed 
1 Afterwards Captain Sir Richard Pirn, R.N.V.'R. 





with the project that he had urged die Professor and the Canadian 
Navy to proceed in their experiments with all dispatch. Never, 
theless, the research involved was prolonged, and it was not unty 
July 25, 1943, that 1 was called on to board H.M.S. Phikinta, a 
beautiful yacht impressed into the Navy, to witness the rfoaj 
Canadian experiments with this system of lighting. H.M.C.S 
Edmonston and H.M.S. Alimia had been fitted for the sea trials 
and we sailed from Liverpool with the Commander-in-Chief of 
Western Approaches, Admiral Sir Max Horton, on board our 

After trials lasting all night we came to the conclusion that the 
diffused lighting was effective, but the equipment was not ade- 
quate to sea conditions. There was inability to control the lighting 
on any bearing except abeam, and up to a distance of four miles 
phosphorescent twinkling showed, although the ship herself was 
invisible. The results were promising, but too much time had 
elapsed since the inception of the scheme. On August 28, 1943, a 
meeting was held under the chairmanship of Rear-Adiniral 
W. R. Patterson, where I proposed that the diffused lighting 
should, for the present, be used only for very valuable ships sail- 
ing independently. A trial of the equipment was, however, made 
in convoy ON210 on H.M.C.S. Rikouski, but this encountered 
considerable teething troubles. Finally, with the German develop- 
ment of an acoustic homing torpedo, the invention of Professor 
Burr and the Canadian Navy was shelved, but it had shown the 
eager desire of that youthful maritime nation to contribute to die 
mother country's efforts. 

In the middle of 1943 Admiral Usborne asked me to take an 
interest in the Chevrons Club, which had been founded in 191S 
on the suggestion of a lady, Mrs Marguerite Helen Mills, ft was 
for the benefit of petty officers of the Royal Navy and non- 
commissioned officers of the Army and Royal Air Force. His old 
friend Mr Walter Moresby, a distinguished counsel, was retiring 
from the Board of Directors because of failing eyesight. After 
some hesitation I agreed to become a director of the company, 
which was non-profit- making. The club had been burnt out of 
previous premises by enemy action, and was moving from home 
to home, but the directors never surrendered. After the War 1 felt 
that this institution for the benefit of men who formed the back- 
bone of the fighting services deserved a permanent home, and so. 
with the aid of colleagues representing the Navy, Army, and Atf 
Force, I devoted spare time to creating a beautiful club in Dorset 

Square, London. The bouse was opened by Her Royal Highness 
jj r ineess Elizabeth on February 3, 1948. Here we now sleep 120 
men, an< 3 every bedroom is equipped with hot water and an 
electric fire. There Is a superb ballroom, dining-hall, library, and 
bars, and the prices charged arc the lowest in England. There is 
n o colour bar, and the only qualification for membership is to 
wear the Queen's uniform as a no n- commissioned officer. The 
members come from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, 
Pakistan, Ceylon, and the far-flung parts of the Commonwealth 
and Empire, and the influence and tradition of the club is felt 
throughout these countries. 

In September 1943 our old chief, the First Sea Lord, was dying. 
The news reached me from Surgeon-Commander Douglas Miller. 
He had flown to Canada to attend Sir Dudley Pound, who had 
broken down during a conference there with Churchill. H.M.S. 
Renown brought him home on his last sea voyage. 

He was suffering from a brain tumour, and was taken to the 
Royal Masonic Hospital, where he died on October 21 — Trafalgar 
Day, He passed away peacefully and without pain, conscious that 
he had served England well. Convoys were crossing the Atlantic 
with food and munitions, escort ships and Coastal Command 
planes were fighting back at the U-boats, and the sea-raiders were 
virtually wiped out. Our land forces had been supplied in the 
Middle' East, stores and equipment were going to Russia, and an 
American army was landing on our shores. However high the sink- 

gs of our ships had been, however great the losses, he had, as 


First Sea Lord, borne the brunt of the conflict against heavy odds, 
and, although the strain and anxiety had finally brought him 
down, victory was now on the horizon. He was not to see it. 
Autumn leaves were falling as I marched in his funeral procession 
from the Admiralty to Westminster Abbey, and Whitehall was 
lined with a dense, dark mass of mourning people paying their 
last tribute to tins officer, who had not failed in discharging his 
great duties. 

In September of 1943 my thoughts turned to the concrete shel- 
ters budt by the Germans to house the U-boats. These had been 
constructed at Trondhjem and Narvik, in Norway, and at Brest, 
Lorient, and St-Nazaire, in France; other shelters were being con- 
structed in the Cherbourg peninsula, well inland, although with 
What purpose it was impossible to tell. These shelters at the ports 
Were the U-boat nests, and if we could strike at them the effect 
on German morale, apart from material damage, would be great. 






The shelters were covered with reinforced concrete of immense 
thickness, and attacks with ordinary bombs appeared to be 
useless, as the bombs had no penetration. 

My first idea was to drive an explosive head through the con- 
crete by means of a hollow charge, and Lieutenant Brinsmead 
carried out some preliminary experiments at Whitchurch. The ex- 
periments were a complete failure, and this method of approaching 
the problem was discarded. I then discussed with Professor Linde- 
maim, the scientific adviser to Mr Churchill, the possibility of 
attacking the shelters. He approved in principle, but was dubious 
as to method. Remembering early experiments by Norway at the 
beginning of the War, I suddenly said, "Why not drive a rocket 
bomb through the roof and explode it inside the shelter?" 

"I w r onder — I wonder," mused the Professor. 

Fired with the idea, T began to collect data from all sources. 

The first step was to obtain the opinion of Dr Alwyn Crow, the 
great expert on rockets, as to the possibility of such a weapon, 
and on September 13, 1943, we held a long discussion. We agreed 
that a bomb could be produced with rocket motors which would 
be capable of defeating twenty feet of reinforced concrete on the 
roof of a shelter and then explode inside. 

I was able to obtain accurate information as to the construction 
of the shelters, particularly from a young Frenchman who had 
escaped from Brest. The Germans had assembled slave labour to 
erect them, and, as the young man told me at Cockfostcrs, had 
indulged in every kind of brutality to make their victims toil. 
Whippings, torture, and death were the gentle incentives to 
further the construction of the fortresses to shelter the U-boats 
that were to destroy the British Navy. 

Lord Rruntisfield, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of 
Admii-alty, who spoke for the Navy in the House of Lords, became 
interested in the possibilities of die new weapon. Benign and help- 
ful, he went to the First Lord, Mr Alexander, who at once seized 
upon the conception as one of importance. After a full discussion 
with him and Admiral Sir Charles Kennedy- Pur vis we realized 
that the production of this weapon was the responsibility of the 
Royal Air Force and the Ministry of Aircraft Production, It was 
once again my fate to conceive an invention that came within 
some one else's purview r . So I went to see prim Sir Stafford Cripps, 
now the head of the Ministry, wdio pursed his lips but listened 
to the technical exposition. 

The United States Army had carried out at Fort Cronkhite, in 

Am erica, experiments with fifteen-inch shells against reinforced 
concrete to ascertain the degree of penetration obtainable at 
Juxown velocities. This information was invaluable in determining 
the weight of the bomb and the speed at which it would have to 
strike to penetrate the roofs of the shelters, which we knew to be 
a bout twenty feet thick. The Road "Research Laboratory produced 
a complicated formula of penetration upon the known data. The 
Allies had never attempted such a weapon before, so I had 
crossed into unknown scientific territory. 

Two matters became plain. First, that the bomb must be 
launched from the American Fortress aircraft — B17— as the only 
one capable of bearing such a weight under its wings. Second, 
that the bomb, when it received the full force of its rocket motors, 
would pass through the sonic barrier, and might therefore be seri- 
ously disturbed in its flight, thus destroying its accuracy. The sonic 
barrier is disturbance occurring at a speed through the atmosphere 
of about 1100 feet a second at ground-level, which is the speed of 
sound. To-day it is commonplace, and aircraft are designed to 
break through without trouble, but it was a very real menace to 
us in 1913. My bomb would be the first in the War to pierce the 
barrier by travelling at 2400 feet a second. I foresaw trouble. The 
height at which the bomb would be launched from the aircraft 
would be over 20,000 feet, and so accuracy would be vital. 

By November 1943 a preliminary design of bomb had been pre- 
pared by the Chief Engineer of Armament Development at Fort 
Halstead, but wc had to face the combined opposition of the Air 
Ministry and Sir Stafford Cripps. Formal letters between the 
Board of Admiralty and the Air Ministry were exchanged, and 
every possible argument was put forward by this Ministry to 
prevent the experiments going forward— I had invaded their 
exclusive field. 

There was, however, no intention of allowing the official pro- 
tests of the Air Ministry to delay or impede the experimental w^ork, 
as by now the Board of Admiralty were convinced that the bomb 
Would, if effective, strike terror into the German Navy. The battle 
between the Admiralty and the Ah Ministry on the proposal for a 
rocket-propelled bomb reached a climax in November 1943, and 
on die 17th of that month the First Lord decided to submit a 
minute upon the subject to the Prime Minister as Chairman ol die 
all-powerful Anti-U-boat Committee. This minute was duly pre- 
pared, but before being dispatched to Mr Churchill, who was 
abroad, it was to receive the comments of Professor Lindemann, 





who had now become Lord Chcrwell. I heard from Lord Cher. 

well's secretary that his comments were likely to be adverse, and 
determined to beard him at Oxford that very day. The roads were 
impassable by reason of ice and snow, so I went to the "City of 
Lost Causes" by train, and was most hospitably received by the 
Professor in his college rooms. For two hours we thrashed out 
technical details, and he was convinced at last that the new 
weapon was a feasible proposition. He told me that he would so 
advise Mr Churchill, and f returned to the Admiralty satisfied that 
this side of the conflict was saved, if not won. 

In fact, it was not until January 2, 1944, that the Prime Minister, 
who had been seriously ill abroad, minuted on the First Lord's 
memorandum, "I support your project in principle, but it should 
be discussed at the Anti-U-boat Committee." 

The Director of Armament Development at the Ministry of Air- 
craft Production, Air Commodore Pidcock,' had given the Air 
Ministry his opinion Hi at, in order to pierce twenty feet of re- 
inforced concrete, a rocket bomb, when released at 20,000 feet, 
would have to weigh 10,000 pounds. On the other hand, we 
claimed that the bomb need only weigh about 4000 pounds to do 
the trick. One of us was very wrong, so on December 10, 1943, a 
meeting was called at Thames House to reconcile these conflict- 
ing statements. Group Captain Wynter Morgan, a technician, 
was in the chair, and the Ordnance Board and other interested 
departments were represented. After discussion all present 
agreed that the Admiralty calculation was correct. On Decem- 
ber 15, 1943, my Lords of the Admiralty wrote to the Air Minis- 
try, enclosing a copy of the minutes of this meeting, letting 
them have it with both barrels, and proposing that a committee 
be formed with all powers to develop the weapon without further 

To achieve this end the First Lord, on December 24, 1943, 
called a meeting in his room at which Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord 
Chcrwell, and Chiefs of the Air Ministry were present. Sir Stafford 
closely examined me, but I knew my facts and was able to give 
the right answers. Nevertheless, I could feel the resistance of the 
Marshals of the Air Force; while this Service had not the years of 
tradition of the Navy, they had won the Battle of Britain, and 
could have afforded greater generosity and been less grudging in 
their help with this new weapon. 

The man who assisted me most in this departmental war was 
] Afterwards Air Vice -Marshal Geoffrey Pidcock, C.B., C.B.E. 

Mr Clifford Jarrett, 1 secretary to the First Lord. Youthful in 

appearance, he was ever genial, and possessed great influence. 
With a quick smile he would, on bis own responsibility, solve 
problems and oil the wheels. I prophesied to him that one day 
fie would be Secretary of the Admiralty — and it looks very much 
as if he will be. A bad civil servant can be a cause of endless fric- 
tion, but men of the calibre of Jarrett are an example in then- 
devotion to duty and priceless in value to the State. 

So many departments and Ministries were involved in the 
rocket bomb that on January 28, 1944, the Ordnance Board called 
a great meeting of experts under the chairmanship of Vice-Admiral 
A. F. Pridham, 2 President of the Board. The technicians and 
scientists poured in from all four corners of the country — there 
must have been some forty present, and each was a master in his 
own trade, whether that of bombs, ballistics, fuses, or aircraft. 
The President reviewed my proposal, and then took the meeting 
through each component and problem involved. Group Captain 
Baker-Carr tantalized us by smoking a precious cigar, and proved 
an inveterate opponent. The meeting, however, resolved that the 
bomb was feasible, and every one returned gaily to his back room. 
I was certain that the Deputy First Sea Lord had previously told 
the President [hat the Navy wanted this weapon— and wanted it 

The next step was to obtain the final design of the bomb, and, 
after consulting various experts at the Admiralty, including stout 
Captain L. E. H. Llewellyn, head of the Bomb Disposal Depart- 
ment, I settled upon the main features. The sonic barrier loomed 
like a dark shadow, but, remembering that fifteen-inch shells slid 
through it without undue disturbance, 1 decided to shape the 
bomb like a shell. True, the bomb would not rotate in its trajec- 
tory like a shell, but we would have to chance whether the 
absence of rotation made any difference to passing through the 

The diameter was to be fifteen inches and the charge 500 pounds 
of yellow "Shellite" explosive. 3 The charge had to be kept rela- 
tivclv low, as the forged casing of steel was heavy because it 
would have to pass through so much concrete before exploding. 
The weight of the bomb was to be 4500 pounds, and it would have 
nineteen rocket motors, each of three-inch diameter. The fuse to 
fire the rocket motors would operate by barometric air-pressure, 

1 Afterwards Sir Clifford Jamitt, K.B.E. 

"Afterwards Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Pridham, K.B.E. 'See endpaper. 






and would start the rockets at 5000 feet from ground-level; this 
dim st from the rockets should ensure great stability to the bomb 
The fuse to fire the charge inside the U-boat shelter would be set 
in motion when the bomb struck concrete, and would have 
delayed action to ensure that the bomb body passed through the 
roof before exploding. This work was to some extent based on 
theory, fortified by the results obtained in other fields of research. 
Thus, for example, I heard that "Tallboy," the large bomb which 
was the apple of the eye of the Air Force, had approached the 
sonic barrier with dire results to its stability, and to overcome this 
defect had to be given special fins which produced rotation as it 
travelled through the ah. 

As the project took shape I discussed it in detail with Colonel 
Howard Bunker, head of the Air Technical section of the United 
States Army Air Corps. The Colonel possessed all the charm of an 
American gentleman, and proved a strong supporter of the bomb. 
Further, he supplied me with a great deal of information upon air 
tactics, which I promptly used to counter the objections of the Air 
Ministry in official correspondence still pursuing its hectic course. 

All this time the Deputy First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Charles 
Kennedy-Purvis, was supporting my efforts with might and main, 
and on February 14, 1944, he held yet another meeting of naval 
officers and scientists to consider the bomb. 

Sir Charles thumped the table with his fist and roared, "Why 
have we not got a rocket bombP" 

The last letter of the Air Ministry was considered, and it was 
decided to disagree with their latest statements. The meeting 
advised the First Lord that there was a firm requirement for the 
bomb, that the length of time taken to produce it was to be 
deplored, and that the Air Ministry should be told so. 

A mock-up of the bomb was made for the Admiralty and fitted 
to a Fortress aircraft. This proved the last sfraw to the Air 
Ministry, and they appealed to the final court— the supreme War 
Cabinet. A meeting was therefore fixed for May 18, 1944, to con- 
sider both sides of the controversy. Upon hearing of this action 
by the Air Ministry 1 decided to seek allies for the impending 
battle, and called upon the Deputy Chiefs of the Imperial General 
Staff at the War Office, taking with me plans, memoranda, the 
opinions of the technical experts, and any other material that would 
add fuel to the fires. The red-tabbed generals were fascinated by 
the bomb and its possibilities, and I left the meeting with the 
comfortable feeling that the Army would come out on our side. 

On the morning of May 18 the First Lord sent for Admiral Sir 
Charles Kennedy-Purvis and myself, and said, "One way or the 
other this will decide the matter." 

And so we three went to the offices of the War Cabinet. 

The Prime Minister could not attend the meeting, so Mr Oliver 
Lyttelton, 1 Minister of Production, took the chair on his behalf. 
The Army was represented by dark, outspoken Sir James Grigg, 
Secretary of State for War. Sir Andrew Duncan, the Minister of 
Supply, sat with folded arms, and Sir Stafford Cripps looked the 
great lawyer about to speak in a case. Lord Cherwell gently 
stroked his moustache, while Dr Crow, the rocket expert, ner- 
vously shifted in his seat. Two Air Force officers were at the 
extreme end of the table, and I sat on the left of the First Lord 
and on the right of Admiral Sir Charles Kennedy-Purvis. The case 
for the Air Ministry was presented by Sir Archibald Sinclair, their 
Secretary of State. 

For reasons of War Cabinet security practice it is not possible 
to give details of this meeting. But the arguments of the Ministries, 
as set out in the correspondence prior to the discussion, can be 

The view of the Air Ministry was that the rocket bomb would 
not go through the sonic barrier without such serious disturbances 
as would destroy accuracy when launched from 20,000 feet. No 
such experiment had ever been carried out before, no one knew 
whether the bomb would function or not, and the chances against 
success were too great to justify the effort of the trials. The Admi- 
ralty reply was that as the bomb was shaped like a shell it should 
prove stable, and the only way to find out was to try. 

The Ministry of Aircraft Production considered that aircraft 
would take far more sorties to kill a U-boat in the shelters with 
the rocket bomb than Coastal Command took with their planes to 
destroy a U-boat at sea. Unfortunately, they had slipped, and the 
calculations showed the exact reverse — namely, that the rocket 
bomb would take one-sixth of the operational effort of Coastal 
Command to achieve the same result. In 1943 Coastal Command 
had made 21,600 sorties against U-boats, attacked 510, and sunk 
80. These precise figures, which had been worked out from known 
data by Professor F, T. Williams of the Admiralty, were a bull- 
point against the Ministry and silenced their guns. Then, again, 
the accuracy of the bomb, even if stable, which was so much 
doubted, was seriously questioned by the Air Ministry. The 
1 Afterwards Viscount Chandos of Aldershot, 


answer to this was that, using the Norden sight, we should attain 
between five and seven hits on a shelter out of every hundred 
bombs launched. An important factor in this calculation was that 
each Fortress aircraft carried two bombs. 

Another difficulty raised by the Air Ministry was that the fusing 
problem would be especially complicated, as the bomb fuse would 
involve delayed action through thick concrete. The answer was 
that a standard fuse already tested would be used, and therefore 
no delay would be caused in this respect. 

They then objected that the Germans coold take counter- 
measures by increasing the thickness of concrete, and could also 
use smoke-screens to hide the targets. They also urged that the 
priorities for the invasion of France, called "Overlord," would be 
affected if the rocket bomb continued to be developed at its 
present rate. But these allegations were too vague to carry any 
weigh t. 

At the War Cabinet meeting the Ministers became fascinated 
with the various new scientific problems inherent in the rocket 

"What shall I say?" murmured the First Lord to mc, in some 

"Call on me to reply, sir," I swiftly whispered back, which he 
at once did. Thus the case for the Admiralty came into my hands. 

Roiind the Board table the Ministers exchanged epics tions and 
answers with breathless rapidity. The keenest brains in England, 
Churchill's chosen men, were investigating and probina my 

At one stage one of them burst out, "It is just dog-in-the-manger 
— if the Admiralty want this bomb they should have it." 

There was a startled silence for a few moments, and I reekoned 
that my visit to the War Office was paying handsome dividends. 

Mr Lyttelton, in the chair, decided that my bomb should retain 
its "P plus" priority, and as we left the First Lord and. Admiral 
Sir Charles Kennedy- Purvis said to me in one breath, "Now you 
can get along with it at all speed." The Admiralty had won the day, 

This was the way the war was carried on by the Ministers of 
the Crown; it was fearless cut-and- thrust", and as a result the right 
decision was generally arrived at. These men carried on their 
shoulders vast responsibilities, and, despite differences of opinion, 
they were dedicated to the common aim of destroying Hitler's 
power. Thus, when the controversy on the rocket bomb focused 
attention on the possibility of attacking the U-boats in their shel- 




ters consideration was given to a powerful new bomb called "Tall- 
boy/' which had been developed by the Air Ministry. As the shel- 
ters were filled chock-a-block with U-boats the First Lord of the 
admiralty, Mr A. V. Alexander, demanded that they should be 
bombed as soon as possible. The Air Minister, Sir Archibald Sin- 
clair, undertook operations, although there was only one squadron 
f Lancastcrs capable of carrying such a bomb, and as a result the 
Air Force made constant raids on U-boat and E-boat shelters, 
using "Tallboy" whenever possible. In August 1944 twenty-six 
"Tallboys" were dropped on the Brest shelters alone, and, 
although the hits achieved did not do much damage, as the bomb 
was not designed to penetrate concrete, the effect on German 
morale was great. 

Meanwhile the development of the rocket bomb proceeded 
apace. Early in 1944 I had arranged with Vickers- Arm strongs, the 
great steel-manufacturers who made the Navy's armour-piercing 
shell, to forge bomb bodies for die experiments. These were now- 
fitted with rockets, fuses, and other components, and filled. The 
next stage was to cany out flights with Fortress aircraft and, from 
the data obtained from the launching of the bomb through air, 
prepare the necessary bombing tables. Before, however, a single 
bomb could be released from an aircraft in flight intense vibration 
trials had to be carried out at the great aircraft experimental sta- 
tion at Farnborough to ensure that the holding mechanism of the 
plane would not fracture by reason of the stresses set up. These 
tests proved satisfactory. 

Colonel Bunker, ever helpful, introduced me to a United States 
station at Bovingdom in Herts, used for experimental work with 
Fortress aircraft. There I arranged for immediate ballistic trials 
with Colonel Ben Kelsey, of the United Stales Army. About this 
time Li en tenant- Commander J. B. Murray, R.N,, was lent to me 
to render assistance; young and a splendid airman, he gave 
invaluable service. 

The bombing station was situated at Orfordness, on the bleak 
East Anglian coast, where there was nothing but a coastguard 
station, shingle, and seagulls wheeling with mournful cries over 
the grey North Sea. 

As the path of the bomb could only be seen from the ground, 
and because of the vital necessity of ascertaining whether the 
bomb would pierce the sonic barrier and remain stable, my duty 
Would be to watch the first flight among scientists at the station 
and not go in the plane. Mmray, therefore, would accompany the 





American pilots and observe the release. Two fighters would 
escort ihe Fortress as guards against enemy attack. 

My headquarters were at Wood bridge, some five miles away 
from the station. Day after day we waited for a cloud ceilintr of 
20,000 feci, but, despite the optimistic forecasts of the Air Force 
meteorologists, the right weather steadfastly refused to come. 

Desperate and bored, I watched the live battle practice of the 
Army on land adjoining the station. One evening I slipped on 
some grey flannels and strolled along the river wall at Wood- 
bridge and examined the far coastline through my glasses. Within 
half an hour the local police-station was inundated with reports 
that a German spy was operating in the area; civilian clothes were 
not safe in this district. 

At last, one morning, we obtained a deep, clear blue sky, and 
the aerodrome at Bovingdon gave the signal that (hey were taking 
off. Everybody at the station stood by with instruments set, and 
as the plane approached its wireless operator informed us [hat 
they were going to make a dummy run over the target area, which 
was at sea, and then on later flights release the bombs. I picked up 
the plane with sea-glasses at 20,000 feet as a speck. The first bomb 
released itself by accident and shot to earth instead of in the sea. 
It flashed in its trajectory, then 5000 feet from ground-level, the 
rocket motors ignited, shooting out a long plume of white smoke, 
and (he added velocity caused the bomb to scream through the air 
before striking — where I knew not. 

The chief scientist pursed his lips and shook his head. 

"Cannot tell whether it is stable or not," he grunted. 

The plane took another run over the target area with the re- 
maining bomb, but this plunged into the sea beyond the range, 
and was therefore useless. 

In great anxiety I now set out to discover where the first bomb 
had fallen, and prayed that no innocent person had been killed or 
serious damage done by this mischance. The police were able to 
give valuable aid, as various protests had been made to thern. 
Driving round the countryside, I finally located the monster 
quietly lying on the ground minus rockets. In the adjoining field 
there were two holes fifty yards apart, and it was clear that the 
bomb had entered the larger one, then run underground, and 
emerged through the smaller, finally jumping the hedge. 

Two bronzed farm-labourers told mo their story. They were 
peacefully working a Ford tractor in the field when one of (hem 
looked up and saw the rocket bomb rushing at them, belching fir 6 

a nd smoke and screeching like a child in pain. With considerable 
presence of mind he shouted to his friend. 

"Dook, you bloody , dook!" and 'dook' they did, under the 


The bomb struck on one side of (hem, burrowed like a rabbit, 
a iid shot out on the other, leaving thern unharmed but dazed. 
Fortunately, it had not been loaded with explosive. I filled them 
with beer to restore their shattered nerves, and they drank the 
health of the Royal Navy in pint tankards. 

Captain Llewellyn, the bomb expert, came down in person to 
inspect the holes, and shook his head at the large hole of entry. 

"This bomb is not stable," pronounced the great man, 

"It was not properly launched," I replied shortly. 

We decided to probe the hole, and ratings were set to work. In 
due course we discovered that the bomb had penetrated 180 feet, 
and then been turned by a strata of blue clay which had shot it to 
the surface. 

I returned to Woodbridge very anxious, and again waited for 
the right cloud ceiling for another run. Five days later it came, 
and the aircraft rose from Bovingdon Aerodrome. 

As the plane took its first run over the range there was a dead 
silence in our observation room, and all held their breath. Grimly 
watching I saw the bomb leave the aircraft, this time at just the 
right moment, curve and curve in its long are, fling out the trail 
of cotton- woolly smoke, and strike the water at the correct point 
with a white splash. It was a perfect launch, and the rocket bomb 
had slipped clean as a whistle through the sonic barrier and was 
absolutely staid e from beginning to end. The scientists around me 
beamed with pleasure as [hey cheeked on their recordings. I 
picked up the telephone and spoke to the Deputy First Sea Lord 
at the Admiralty. 

The next stage of the experiments was to test whether a bomb 
containing such a long column of explosive would detonate com- 
pletely when the fuse fired the charge. The armament officers 
shook their heads after studying the drawing, so we set np a bomb 
at Shoeburyncss and exploded it. The detonation was satisfactory, 
and all (he "Shellite" exploded, bursting the heavy steel casing 
into fragments that flew in all directions. 

I returned to Bovingdon Aerodrome to test the flying and re- 
lease of bombs over the range at Orlordness so that detailed 
bombing tables could be prepared. In my first flight with a bomb 
tinder each wing of the plane Lieutenant-Colonel Algene Key, a 





crack American pilot, was at the controls. We made a (rial landing 
on an unfamiliar aerodrome near Woodbridge, and then started 
to take off for the range. As we were speeding up the runway the 
starboard propeller started to revolve faster than the port, and sq 
swung the plane off the tarmac. I was standing motionless behind 
Key and thought that my last hour had come. With supreme skill h e 
pulled the plane to a standstill before reaching the hedge. When the 
crew emerged from the lower bay they all looked very pale— but 
Key, with perfect sangfroid, took off again, and this time the place 
was aii-borne without incident, Flying at 20,000 feet meant usincr 
oxygen masks, as in those days there were no pressurized compart- 
ments. The bombs were released perfectly, and we took a film of 
them travelling through the air, which was shown at the Admiralty 
some days later. On the return journey I took over the controls for 
a time and felt the thrill of a great aeroplane obeying my slightest 

In May of 1944 I was in frequent contact with General Doolittle, 
commander of the United States Eighth Air Force, whose head- 
quarters were at the Abbey, High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, 
This was once a famous girls' school. I had received much hospi- 
tality from the Americans, and so the Deputy First Sea Lord sug- 
gested a private dinner party at Claridges, and intimated that the 
Admiralty would be pleased to pay. Upon this satisfactory finan- 
cial footing 1 invited my friends and allies to a dinner with the 
American officers on May 30. The chief American officers con- 
cerned with the rocket bomb and three British admirals came as 
my private guests, so there were no speeches or toasts. The port 
was Cock burn. 1907 vintage — the last at Claridges— but the 
Americans drank one glass each and no more. The Admiralty got 
full value for their money in the cordial relations cemented by this 
festive occasion. 

Early in 1944. in view of the delay caused by the opposition of 
the Air Ministry to the rocket bomb, I had proposed to the First 
Lord that the Admiralty should request the Ministry of Aircraft 
Production to place a provisional order for 2000 bomb bodies to 
be forged by Vickers- Arm strongs, Hadfields, and Beard mores, fc 
the event of the trials failing the order could be cancelled, The 
First Lord had approved of this proposal, but no action had been 
taken by the Ministry concerned to further his request. On March 
21, 1944, the First Lord wrote a long letter to Sir Stafford Cripps. 
the Minister of Aircraft Production, complaining of the lack of 
action and requesting him to agree thai: the Admiralty should place 

fae order and thus save time. A few days later Sir Stafford replied: 
^e expressed deep fears as to the stability of the bomb but agreed 
tri at the Admiralty should place the order. I then wrote a minute 
n the principal docket dealing with this matter, asking the 
Controller's departments in the Admiralty to place the order. Vice- 
Adniiral Sir Frederick Wake-Walker, the Controller of the Navy, 
n ot having been consulted, burst into white flames at this and 
wrote about me: 

I do not know who is responsible for the activities of Com- 
mander Terrell ... it appears that instructions by this indi- 
vidual are being given direct to the production departments on 
subjects on which he is not qualified to speak and has no 
authority . . . this individual should be instructed to confine his 
activities within his own responsibility. 

This blistering observation was sent on to the Deputy First Sea 
Lord, who replied that my request was to be granted in this 
important matter. 

I then called upon Sir Frederick to make the peace. 

"I did go off half-cock," was the admission by this distinguished 
and overworked officer. 

Towards the end of June 1944 the preliminary trials of the 
rocket bomb were concluded and we had shrugged off the sonic 
barrier. Flushed with this success, I went to a meeting of the 
Ordnance Board held on July 1, at which all Ministries concerned 
were represented, and calmly announced, "The Admiralty is pre- 
pared to take over the trials, testing, and manufacture of the 
rocket bomb." 

There was some startled opposition from the Air Force officers 
present, but I carried the day, and all finally agreed to the pro- 
posal.. So I became responsible for the entire project, with the 
Ordnance Board, under Vice-Admiral Pridham, and the great 
departments of the Admiralty solidly behind me. The Deputy 
First Sea Lord roundly approved. 

The manufacture of the bombs now went ahead as rapidly as 
possible, for although the Allies had landed in Normandy on 
June 6, 1944, the Board of Admiralty still feared that the advance 
of our troops might be held up, and "Schnorkel "-fitted U-boats 
descend upon the Atlantic Battle in large numbers. 

One of the first VI jet-propelled airplane bombs had fallen at 
Brentwood, in Essex, on June 13, and by chance I was travelling 
noni the Orfordness station to the Admiralty and passed the site 
°£ the explosion shortly afterwards. The nature of the weapon was 



clear from an examination of the debris. For months we l v 
received information that Hitler had a new and rlangerou 
weapon, but we were uncertain of its details. I reported to th S 
First Lord all the technical information I was able to garner, arH 
told him, among other things, that the explosive force did xm 
penetrate any depth, but extended on the surface. From that tj lllp 
VTs exploded in London with persistent regularity. 

The Germans had erected vast and massive concrete shelters 
inland in the Cherbourg peninsula, and, although we were not 
quite certain of their purpose, these caused great anxiety to the 
Chiefs of Staff: it was suspected that they were for the purpose of 
launching masses of Vl's against London and so destroying the 
city. The operation to attack these sites was called "Crossbow," 
and on June 30, 1944, the Chiefs of Staff urged the use of the 
rocket bomb against them as a matter of supreme importance. The 
First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham,! 
stilted that, although the Admiralty were giving production the 
highest priority, there were certain components for which other 
departments were responsible. Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir 
Charles Portal 2 demanded that production should, if possible, be 

The First Lord then called a meeting at the Admiralty on July 7 
at which Sir Andrew Cunningham, Sir Charles Kennedy -Purvis, 
and representatives of production departments were present, and 
it was agreed that the project should be treated as one of unique 
and paramount urgency. So I was virtually given the highest 
priority in the land for the bomb, as there was no doubt of the 
grave threat to London and other great cities. But no priority 
could give die cloud ceiling to complete the trials for the bombing 
table. 1 returned to Woodbridge to wait for the right weather and 
to snatch every hour of clear sky. 

Before I left the Deputy First Sea Lord said to me, "You have 
been promoted to Captain, I congratulate you." 

1 Afterwards Admiral of the Fleet Vis count Cunningham of Hyndhope. 
5 Afterwards Marshal of the Royal Air Force Viscount Portal of Hunger- 


Tortured Europe 

At long last we completed trials at Orfordness, and the scientists 
were now able to calculate final tables to be used for high-level 
precision bombing. 

Lord Bruotisfield, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, 
came and inspected our work, and Dr Crow and his sprightly 
young secretary were constant visitors. On one occasion she suc- 
ceeded in tumbling off the river wall at Woodbridge into a sea of 
black mud. Dr Crow callously suggested putting a hose over her, 
but she fled into the hotel for a bath, and hours later emerged 
clean and flushed. 

The American Air Force were most impressed by the behaviour 
of the rocket bomb through the sonic barrier, and General Spaatz 
put forward to the Air Ministry a staff requirement for 15,000 of 
the new weapon. We received information as to this staff require- 
ment from the headquarters of General Spaatz and not from the 
Air Ministry, who once again were playing a lone hand. We were 
staggered by this demand, as it was beyond the capacity of the 
country to produce such numbers, and it would cost many millions 
of pounds. I discussed the requirement with the Americans and 
compromised upon a limit of 6000 should the need arise acutely. 
In order to speed production of the bomb bodies the First Lord 
paid special visits to Vickers and Hadfields, who were forging 

We decided to drop live bombs upon a suitable target in Eng- 
land, but the only one available was a small concrete installation 
at Ashley Walk, in Hampshire. Colonel Ben Kelsey flew the Fort- 
ress from Bovingdon Aerodrome, and, in company with several 
sceptical officers from the Royal Air Force, I watched the attack. 
The aiming from 20,000 feet was super!), the bombs striking very 
&ear the pinpoint of the target, and we could feel the ground 
hemblc as they exploded deep down in the earth. The Air Force 
v *ewed the spectacle with amazement, as they had never seen 
frigh-level bombing with rocket motors before. They were 
astounded at the accuracy attained, and I felt, as their frank 



congratulations came pouring in, that the year of work involved 
had not been in vain — the rocket bomb was on the map. 

In consultation with the Director of Naval Intelligence I p re 
pared a list of possible targets in Europe for the rocket bomb 
consisting of shelters protected by thick roofs of reinforced con- 
crete. Each of these shelters, built by the Germans at vast cost in 
money and effort, protected a vital installation for waging war 
against the Allies. 

First and foremost there were the great fortresses built in th e 
Cherbourg peninsula, endangering Southampton and London- 
our advancing armies, however, captured this area, and the peril 
so vivid in the minds of the Chiefs of Staff vanished before we 
could attack them with the bomb. At Farge, near Vegcsack, a 
shelter had been built 1460 feet long and 340 feet wide, with a 
roof 20 feet thick; here prefabricated U-boats of "Schnorkel" 
design were being assembled in numbers. At fjmuiden, in Hol- 
land, there were two E-boat pens, each containing ten E-boats at 
a time. Rotterdam had a similar shelter. At Bergen there was a 
U-boat shelter in constant operational use, and Trondhjern was 
similarly equipped. Hamburg and Kiel had between them four 
U-boat shelters, and Heligoland a combined U-boat and E-boat 
shelter. At Leonberg, in Germany, an underground factory for 
aeroplane components had been constructed, and at Niedcr- 
Sachswerpen there was another underground factory for the 
manufacture of V2 rockets; this last target presented difficulties, 
as there was a gypsum stratum over the tunnels. Then there was 
die large U-boat shelter at Brest rendered impotent by the sur- 
rounding American armies and ships. There were also four other 
U-boat shelters on the west coast of France— namely, at Lorient, 
St Nazaire, Bordeaux, and La Pallice. 

I had detailed aerial photographs of all these targets and con- 
siderable information as to their nature and purpose, obtained 
from our agents and from members of the resistance movements. 
If our armies were held up by the German forces, then only the 
rocket bomb could attack these citadels with any prospect of suc- 
cess. "Tallboy," brilliant in its conception, could not pierce the 
roofs, however great its explosive force. 

By August of 1944 the Cherbourg peninsula had been more or 
less cleared of German troops, and the Board of Admiralty de- 
cided to send me to France to examine the mysterious shelters io 
this area. I invited Colonel R. W. Sp ragged', a distinguish cd office 1 " 
of the Royal Marines who was serving in Plans Division, to accorrt" 



pany the expedition. The Colonel twirled his moustache and 
remarked that he was appreciative of French cooking. Dr Glan- 
v ilte, head of the Boad Research Laboratory, Colonels Schwartz 
a nd Cass Hough, of the United States Eighth Air Force, and two 
young American scientists joined us, to create a formidable array 
f talent. We sailed in night convoy from Southampton and 
landed on the open beaches of the peninsula. Around us was the 
inightiest assembly of ships the world had ever known, anchored 
in the "Mulberry" open-sea harbour. 

We established a lodging in one of the few houses undamaged 
py shell-fire. Late that evening I dined as the guest of the Ameri- 
can war correspondents in the local brothel at Cherbourg, which 
had been commandeered. The walls were highly decorated with 
the most: amorous pictures, but no ladies were present. A large 
butt of wine was broached, and I was presented with a red 
Gestapo armband with the Swastika embroidered on it in black. 
Its recent owner, a high official, had been so hated for his crimes, 
tortures, and murders "that he had been shot out of hand, and had 
no further use for this emblem of savageiy against civilized 
French citizens. 

The next day we proceeded to about six miles south-west of the 
town, between Virandeville and St Martin-le-Grand, where we 
found the fortress shelter. 

The shelter was as mysterious as it was great. Built of massive 
concrete and of huge area, it represented a mighty effort, and, 
after examining its chambers and halls, Dr Glanville and I could 
only come to the conclusion that its purpose was to store and 
launch flying-bombs. To-day we know from German records that 
our surmise'was right, and that it was part of the German plan to 
build many of these inland shelters and use masses of jet- 
propelled flying-bombs to destroy London and the great English 
towns and industrial centres. The failure of die plan was mostly- 
due to the round-the-clock bombing by the Air Force of all 
suspicious-looking sites near the coastline of Northern France, 
thus halting completion of the shelters. 

Along the sea-coast we found many small sites for launching 
flying-bombs, and these were heavily camouflaged from aerial 
attack. The more we saw of these sites the greater became die 
grim realization that once again England had escaped destruction 
by the narrowest of margins. 

' Our work concluded, we set about seeking Camembert cheese. 
There was no member of the party who was not deeply apprecia- 



tive of this Normandy delicacy, add for the last: four years we W 
not even set eyes on one. But seek high, seek low, we could n ot 
find any Camembert, and the villages were as bare as Mother 
Hubbard's notorious cupboard. This was clearly a mystery thai- 
called for examination as die Germans could not have looted the lot 

Finally, while we held a naval and military consultation on th e 
subject, I observed a small, sharp-eyed little French boy, who 
s m artly s al ut e d m e . 

"I know where the Camemberts are hidden, man Capilaine," h e 
said, with a wide grin. 

"Heave aboard!'-' I cried, hoisting him rapidly into our jeep, 
and we set off across country under his expert guidance. 

He took us to a large wood set on the slopes of" rising hills, and 
there, concealed in its heart, we found, to our astonishment, a 
great open-air factory for making Camembert cheeses and thick 
cream, presided over by the sombre and angular presence of no 
less a person than Monsieur Le Maire. The Mayor, after pal tin <r 
the boy's head, raised his hat and offered to self us all the cheeses 
we wanted at most reasonable prices, ffe explained that the Ger- 
mans had failed to find the storehouse, and that, as the battle-line 
was now a short distance to the south-west, it was impossible to 
supply Paris with his delectable merchandise. We purchased 
several hundred cheeses and loaded our two jeeps high. On the 
return journey to the ship every precaution was taken to avoid 
ruts and pot-holes lest we should lose this golden harvest. 

As we sailed to Southampton with a following wind a warming 
sun ripened the stack of boxes laid out amidships, and when we 
landed at the quay the jealous port officers claimed that whiffs of 
Camembert had carried right across the Channef. The First Lord 
and other members of the Board of Admiralty had their share, 
and, as some fifty cheeses strangely disappeared in transit 
across the sea, so presumably did the petty officers and ratings of 
our ship. 

On September 19, 1944, the besieged town of Brest capitulated 
to the surrounding American Army. I immediately returned to 
France to examine the U-boat shelter at this port and report on 
the effect of our bombing. As we drove from Cherbourg in out- 
jeep the red cider apples were lying in heaps under the trees with 
no one to gather them. 

My headquarters were at Morlaix, in Finisterc, where 1 stayed 
at a house belonging to a white-haired old lady who. during the 
Occupation, had fiercely driven some German officers from her 



jjoine because they had brought in ladies of doubtful virtue. 
"They might have shot me," she said, "but I would not have such 
goings on." 

I arrived at the great shelter and examined the bombing dam- 
age on the roof. My subsequent report, made in collaboration with 
pr H. M. Jenkins and Lieutenant-Colonel D. L, Sutherland, of the 
United States Forces, and Wing Commander G. H. Everitt, of the 
Air Ministry, indicated that of the twenty-six "Tallboys" dropped 
by Bomber Command nine had hit the roof and penetrated six 
or seven feet into the concrete, but failed to pierce the ceiling of 
the shelter. The roof was about sixteen feet thick. 

The shelter itself was situated at the extreme west of the Rade 
Abri and next to the French Ecole Navale, and was one of the 
few buildings still standing in the old town, which had been rav- 
aged by bombing and shell -fire to such an extent that scar eel v a 
house remained, ft contained fifteen pens for U-boats and was 
equipped with a storeroom, living- quarters, hospital, ship-repair 
shop, a beautiful power plant with dynamos, and a fire-fighting 
station; it was self-contained. The German superintendent of the 
power-house was servile in his desire to give me informal ion. 

Down on the quayside, as the water was un drinkable, I shared 
a bottle of white wine with an American General, and we drank 
surrounded by bodies of German soldiers killed in the siege. There 
were thousands of prisoners of war walking about in confusion 
in the ruined city. 

The Germans had laid booby-traps, and these had killed many 
American soldiers. One had pulled the plug of a lavatory, and it 
had blown him up. f saw a Luger pistol lying on the floor of the 
shelter, but did not pick it up — you had to watch your step. 

The Colonel-in-command discovered a great store of the finest 
cognac in the shelter. 

"Enough for twenty years' hard drinking," he said laconically. 
'All looted from tire French! " 

I found a sunken U-boat in graving -clock No. 4 and waited for 
this to be uncovered as the tide fell. The American officers 
gathered round to see it appear, and, as the conning- tower began 
to show, drew their pistols and commenced Bring at it. 

"Stop, gentlemen, stop," f called out. "There's something the 
other side of it." 

There was — a thousand-pound mine. 

The pistols were hastily replaced in their holsters. One shot 
ln to that mine and , . , 



Returning to Morlaix, I felt ill and feverish, and was obliged to 
stay there several days, I took the opportunity of investigatincr 
atrocities committed by the Germans, and, however distasteful ft 
may be Lo recall these horrors, the story should be told. I gj Ve 
three of many cases, having checked the statements made to me 
in several directions. 

The first involved the martyrdom of a young lad, Michel 
C reach, at Carontec, in Finistere, A few days before my arrival 
the body of the boy had been buried at a public funeral, which 
nearly the whole populace attended. He had been a maquis and, 
when captured and interrogated, had refused to disclose the 
names of his companions. He received approximately fifty bayonet 
wounds, administered so as not to be mortal. Still he refused to 
betray his friends, so then the Germans rolled him in barbed wire, 
and fin; illy, realizing that nothing would break his determination, 
they shot him. 

The second case was brought to light by Capitaine de Corvette 
Georgeslin. Georgeslin was a courageous French naval officer who 
had been wounded at Dunkirk and was held in great respect by 
all people of repute in the district. During the Occupation he had 
been the secret leader of the Resistance movement in the area, 
even visiting the unsuspecting German military commander at 
Morlaix as administrator of maritime affairs for the town. He was 
a witness of veracity, honestly trying to tell the truth without 
exaggeration. On August 13, 1941, upon information he received 
from a captured German soldier, he went to Plougaslou, where he 
opened a grave. He was accompanied by the sub-prefect of the 
district, Lieutenant Goldsmith, of the United States Army, a Ger- 
man doctor, and the soldier. They found the bodies of three 
young men and a girl, buried one on top of the other, and all the 
men had broken wrists. The German soldier stated that the three 
young men were captured maquis, and that he was present when 
they were all beaten unconscious and then shot. The girl, who 
was not a maquis but sister to one of the young men, was treated 
in the same way. 

The third case was even worse. On August 4, 1944, during the 
advance of the American and British troops, a young maquis in a 
fit of exuberance arrested two German soldiers at St Pol. There- 
upon the Germans came into the town, seized twelve French citi- 
zens, including the Mayor, who was a descendant of a Marshal D.f 
France, and shot them in cold blood. They also seized hap- 
hazardly sixteen hostages, including one woman, and transported 



them to Morlaix, where they were taken to the Chateau Weygand. 
This chateau was not suitable for the purposes of the Germans, so 
they moved the hostages to the near-by Chateau Kadrel, and all 
sixteen were tortured to death, suffering prolonged and inhuman 
agony. Their eyes were torn out, their fingers cut off, their skin cut 
at 1 the shins, and their legs flayed while they were still alive— then 
"in mercy" they were shot. The bodies were found in two graves 
at the CMteau Kadrel, and photographs and a report were pre- 
pared by Dr Mamon, doctor of medicine at Morlaix. 

Nevertheless, the Resistance movement had been strong at 
Brest, and women as well as men had played their heroic part. 
One French girl had even worked for the German Navy in the 
shelter, and reported every detail of what was going on. These 
reports had reached the Admiralty and she had stood, if dis- 
covered, to be tortured and shot by her employers. She was also 
in constant danger of being killed by our bombing, or even by her 
own people as a collaborator. 

At Morlaix there was a torture-chamber in the Quai de Lyons 
called the Maison Guillon. Captives were there interrogated by 
the Gestapo under the authority of a German named Keller. The 
shrieks of the victims were continually heard, so that inhabitants 
round about could bear it no longer and moved away. 

The trials of Nuremberg were yet to come, and I was not har- 
dened to the terrible crimes committed by the German Army and 

The Germans claim to be a Christian and educated nation, but 
what other civilized people has committed such fiendish crimes? 
The story of Morlaix was the story of all enslaved Europe. 

The justice meted out at the War Trials touched only a few of 
those who had ordered or committed these acts against humanity, 
and many are still living whose cruel hearts were never moved by 
the despairing cries of their victims as they perished in agony. 
Perhaps a new generation of Germans will abhor the deeds' of 
their ancestors, but we who came face to face with the reality 
cannot forget. 

Every evening in Brest, at sunset, we would turn to the flagstaff 
on the parade-ground and salute. The Tricolour of France would 
flutter to the top, followed by the Stars and Stripes, and the band 
would play the Marseillaise and then the Star-spangled Banner. 
A handful of ragged French, men and women, would come from 
their hovels and, with tears in their eyes, join in this simple moving 
ceremony. It was the tribute of America to downcast France. 



I returned to London and made my reports to the Board of 

The remainder of 1944 was spent in manufacturing rocket 
bombs and carrying out tests and trials with the new weapon. The 
additional weight under the wings of a Fortress aircraft made it- 
imperative to calculate accurately the amount of fuel which could 
be carried, the weight of armaments and of the crew, and the 
other factors necessary to determine its operational range. It then 
became clear that the Fortress aircraft would be unable to attack 
the distant she] ters in Norway without grave hazard of not return- 
ing. If such attacks became necessary we should have to use the 
big brother of the Fortress — B29 — which was shortly coming over 
from the United States in numbers. 

Meanwhile rny other duties called for constant attention, par- 
ticularly the task of smoke-elimination from our ships, the adminis- 
tration of which could never be allowed to relax. 

I made friends with the officers at the American Ah Station at 
Poddiugton, where a specially trained operational squadron for 
carrying die rocket bomb was stationed. In the evenings we 
played poker while organizing heavy raids with ordinary bombs 
on German industrial centres. 

"When in Rome do as the Romans," said the Deputy First Sea 
Lord, "If you have any losses the Admiralty will pay from the 
Entertainment Fund." But, had I met reverses in this American 
pastime, I would never have ventured to make a claim — there 
would have been no precedent. 

By January 1945 the Pas de Calais had fallen to the Allied 
Armies, and at Watten, some ten miles from Calais, we found a 
concrete shelter built for assembling and firing V2 rockets, which 
we determined to use for target practice with our bomb. Accord- 
ingly attacks were made from Poddiugton Aerodrome, and 
several hits obtained, f immediately crossed to France from 
Dover, which was no longer "Piell-fire Corner," to examine the 
results. Members of the Ordnance Board came with me, and we 
climbed to the top of the shelter to view the damage. Our only 
method of reaching the top was by a flimsy home-made ladder, 
which looked as if it might break at any moment and hurl us down 
twenty feet on to concrete. With the aid of local soldiers we re- 
moved the rubble from one deep crater in the roof and found 
that the bomb had penetrated twenty feet of reinforced concrete 
and exploded, displacing 5000 cubic feet of concrete wei idling 
350 tons — not bad. 


I inscribed for future visitors a legend on the wal 


This hole belongs to the Royal Navy and the United St- T 
Eighth Air Force." 
From Watten I went to Paris to meet Colonel Schwartz 

had taken up his headquarters near by. The beautiful city 
untouched by the ravages of the War; the French nation 

i ., . , . nation had 

saved their capital, but at great cost to their pride. I received 
many true accounts of the Occupation and of the murder and tor 
ture of the brave men and women of the Resistance movement It 
is to the eternal credit of the French that, when the Americans 
liberated Paris and the German Occupation troops were at their 
mercy, they were allowed to leave the city. 

"We at any rate are civilized," said the Frenchmen. 

At dawn on February 10, 1945, a squadron from the United 
States 92nd Bombardment Group stationed at Poddington Airfield 
took to the air with the rocket bombs to attack the shelters at 
IJmuiden, in Holland. The squadron was under the command of 
Colonel James W. Wilson, and consisted of nine Fortress aircraft. 
The weather conditions were good, and the first element, consist- 
ing of three aircraft, recorded hits from 20,000 feet. An area of 
concrete of about 8,550 feet and over twelve feet thick was com- 
pletely destroyed and vanished. The bombardiers reported flames 
coming out of the entrance to the shelters, indicating that the 
bombs had penetrated and exploded inside. Colonel Wilson and 
his fellow-pilots were jubilant at the accuracy obtained and the 
behaviour of the bomb. 

Again on March 14 another attack was launched, this time 
against some newly constructed E-boat pens at IJmuiden, and out 
of eighteen bombs dropped six struck the target. As we subse- 
quently discovered, one of these bombs penetrated eighteen and 
a half feet of concrete, but failed to explode, remaining em- 
bedded in the cement flooring. 

A third attack was launched a few days later, but the weather 
conditions failed the airmen in the target area, and clouds came 
down, obscuring their vision. 

A little later, at Cockfosters, I was able to interrogate a young 
German sailor who had deserted from IJmuiden but had been 
present there during the raids. He reported that fires and explo- 
sions, lasting three hours, had taken place inside the shelters after 
the first raid. These must have been caused by the detonating of 
war-heads of torpedoes and other ammunition in store. He said 
the rockets made a howling noise and had a very great effect on 




German morale. The shelters were abandoned after the raids. 

Towards the end of March an attack was made on the U-boat 
shelter at Farge with thirty-five planes, eaeh carrying two rocket 
bombs, but as I was unable to go to Germany I never saw the 
results. The weather conditions over the target during the raid 
were bad. 

After the first successful raid on IJmuiden it was decided to 
release the news that we possessed a rocket bomb capable of 
penetrating the sonic barrier and defeating the stoutest shelter 
(he Germans could build. The psychological effect of such pub- 
licity on & reheating enemy, who had obviously placed the 
greatest reliance upon these concrete fortresses, would be very 
great. The release was duly made on April 21, 1945. by the Press 
Division of the Admiralty, and I came under the searing search- 
light of blazing front-page news in all Allied countries. Because 
of my legal background 1 was headlined by Fleet Street as a rather 
special case. 

The unconditional surrender o£ Germany came on May 8, 1945. 
Hitler was reported as dead, the leaders of the Reich were in 
Allied hands, and the evil Nazi structure was crumbling into 
pieces, leaving anarchy to spread throughout the land. 

The U-boat war was over, and our ships could now sail freely 
in the Atlantic. Looking back over the years, I can but think that 
one of the greatest factors in achieving victory in the Battle of the 
Adantic — a battle on which the whole war depended — was our 
use of radar in its broadest sense from Coastal Command planes 
and escort ships. We were always a step ahead of the Germans, 
and their failure to develop the right wave-length for search re- 
ceivers in U-boats was a material factor in their defeat. Men of 
the calibre of famous Captain F. J. Walker, 1 of the sloop H.M.S. 
Starling, led our sailors into attack, and their leadership was vital 
in the sea conflict, but the dominant factor, as in no other war, was 
science, and in England we possessed scientists and inventors of 
unrivalled ability. 

As Holland was now liberated, I proposed an expedition to 
IJmuiden to see the bomb damage caused by the attacks of the 
American Eighth Air Force, and also to detonate the unexplodcd 
bomb of which reports had reached us. Air Vice -Marshal Pidcock, 
who was now Vice-President of the Ordnance Board, joined my 
party, which included specialists from the Road Research Depart- 

1 Afterwards Captain Frederick John Walker, C.B., D.S.O. and three bars, 



merit. I had on my staff Lieutenant D. R. Rex worthy, of the Volun 
teer Reserve, a young scientist who delighted in creatine great 
explosions, and who was detailed to fire the bomb. Admfraltv 
signals were sent to the Flag-Officer-in-Charge in Holland and 
we sailed from Dover to Rotterdam. We brought cars with us in 
a Tank Landing Craft accompanying our ships, and arrived with- 
out encountering mines, as the channel to the port had just been 
swept. »:,-■•-■■> 

Arriving at IJmuiden, we found our bomb well and truly buried 
in the concrete flooring of the shelter and fully charged with 
explosive. Lieutenant Rexworthy set up the electrical firing appara- 
tus a hundred yards away from the entrance, and I took special 
precautions with sentries to ensure that no wandering soldiers in 
the shelters should be blown up. The Air Vice-Marshal took up a 
well-protected position behind a convenient concrete bunker. 
Lieutenant Rexworthy pressed the firing key, but nothing hap- 
pened, and the electrodes in the bomb did not work; so he walked 
back into the shelter to find out the cause of failure. I placed a 
sentry over the electrical cables leading to tire bomb, with instruc- 
tions that on no account were they to be touched, and then joined 
Rexworthy in the shelter, where he made adjustments to the 
mechanism buried in the sticky explosive. I could but wonder 
what it felt like to be blown to fragments, but Rexworthy was as 
happy as a sand-boy on the seashore. We tested the circuit and 
tried again, and this time the bomb duly exploded, and the 
scientists made their recordings of blast and fragmentation caused 
by an explosion within walls of concrete. 

That night we all went dancing with die charming young ladies 
of Rotterdam, many of whom had risked their lives time and again 
in desperate ventures against the German invaders, now prisoners 
of war in ships moored alongside the quay. The ladies appeared 
to be anxious to find out which of us were married and which not, 
but not one of us gave the others away. Just after midnight I 
picked up in my car Lieutenant Rexworthy, who had been seeing 
his girl friend home. 

"She was telling me all about her adventures in the Resistance 
movement, sir," he explained. 

"Oil, yes," I said, politely but incredulous. 

We announced that the ship would distribute food to the starv- 
ing people, and I gave instructions that next morning every citizen 
should receive bully beef, chocolate, and biscuits as a gift. The 
news spread like lightning, and when thousands appeared m a 



queue alongside, every officer and rating of my ship joined in ft 
joyful work of filling the outstretched hands. Then we sailed from 
Rotterdam with the local band playing on the quayside, and as the 
vessel moved slowly away from the great crowd I spoke to them 
on the loudspeaker system, bidding good-bye. The voices and 
waving hands and handkerchiefs of the Dutch folk blessed us 
and we looked at the white ensign fluttering at the stern in fti 
North Sea breeze and felt a little proud and very happy. 

The Air Ministry were feeling deep pangs of compunction at 
their attitude towards the development of the rocket bomb, and 
the Air Council on June 2, 1945, wrote to my Lords of the 

They wish to express their appreciation of the pioneer work 
in the development of the rocket bomb, which has been under- 
taken by the Admiralty. The Air Council are very conscious 
that when consideration is given to the development of a 
weapon for the attack on more massive structures likely to be 
encountered in any future war the rocket- ass is ted principle 
should not be neglected — they welcome continuation of investi- 
gations ... on which to base the future weapon policy of the 
Royal Air Force, 

It was the amende honorable and to be expected from a very 
great Service. 

I had laid the foundation for future development, and the basic 
principle of the flight of rockets through the sonic barrier had 
been established. Battle operations had been carried out against 
enemy installations with, success, and we now understood the 
necessity of attacking the wasps in their nests. 

The coalition of Conservative and Labour parlies, which had 
waged war with such success, now broke up, and a 'caretaker' 
Government of Tories was installed. Parliament was dissolved, 
and on July 26, 1945, the result of the General Election was de- 
clared. Winston Churchill, the architect of victory in the greatest 
conflict the world had ever known, was rejected by an overwhelm- 
ing majority of electors. Labour gained power, and Mr Attlee 1 
became Prime Minister, I fought" in the Election for Churchill 
at North Sou thwark, in London. Fate decreed that my opponent 
should be Mr George Isaacs, 2 the friend of Mr Alexander, the 
First Lord of the Admiralty in the Coalition Government, but I 
felt it right to do all I could to support Churchill. Mr Isaacs 

'Afterwards Earl Attlee, 

' Afterward s the Eight Hon. George Isaacs, M.P. 


9.9 r 

retained the scat, and our contest was fought with every courtesy, 
jvlr Alexander returned triumphantly as First Lord in the new 
Labour Government, and I returned to the Navy. 

Japan still held out against overwhelming odds, but on August 
g, 194a, the world was startled by the news that an atomic bomb 
had been exploded over Hiroshima, destroying the town, and for 
good or evil we entered the atomic age. The construction of the 
atomic bomb had been one of the most closely guarded secrets of 
America and England. The responsibility for die explosion of the 
bomb lay upon the shoulders of President Truman and Mr Attlee. 
There is no doubt that the Japanese had waged war with great 
cruelty and barbarity, and that by forcing this unconditional sur- 
render the lives of many brave Allied men were saved. But before 
using the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki we should have 
warned Japan that wo had this overwhelming weapon and de- 
manded her immediate surrender. If she had failed to comply, 
then our conscience might have been more clear in delivering the 
final blow in this way. 

After five and a half years of war service the time had come to 
leave the Royal Navy. I shook hands with the Deputy First Sea 
Lord, Admiral Sir Charles Kennedy-Purvis, and he gave me a 
letter he had written and which remains in my family archives: 

On your quitting the Naval Service ... I am prompted to 
write to you with regard to your services to the Admiralty. You 
will be well aware of the use to which the inventions which 
you either originated yourself, or in which you were closely 
concerned with others, were put and the extent to which they 
affected operations in the course of the war, and it is, therefore, 
needless for me to make any remarks other than to congratu- 
late you on what you conceived and carried through. . . . 

I turned away from this very brave and loyal First Sea Lord with 
eyes slightly dimmed. He died, loved by the Navy, on May 26, 
1946, and the tablet to his memory in the Requiem Chapel at 
Greenwich Naval College bears the inscription Clarior e Tenebris. 

In dark civilian clothes I wandered through the crowded Strand 
and back to the Temple, now a scene of devastation and debris. 
The war had struck hard at my beloved Inn of Court, but work- 
men wore already engaged in cleari ng the rubble and rebuilding. 
The Temple would emerge from its ordeal more beautiful than 
ever, and future generations would look upon the old stones side 
by side with the new brickwork, and ponder on what may have 
Proved to be the last great war. The Judges would resume their 



normal work, and once again (lie Temple's message of truth 
justice, and equity would go out wherever the English language 
is spoken — and farther. 

The old chambers had been destroyed, and so I entered a n cw 
set where my name was freshly painted up. There was Sidney 
Kensington looking a little older, busy in the clerk's room tying 
up papers with red tape, and he welcomed me with a bright smile 
and a chuckle. 

It was the end of my Admiralty Brief. 

The Aftermath 

The new Labour Government decreed that the victorious 
Admirals, Generals, and Marshals of the Air Force wore to receive 
high titles but, contrary to tradition, no monetary rewards. There 
was even an argument about the Navy's cherished prize money. 
But the inventors were to be awarded grants, as was the case 
after the First World War. In 1946 the Government set up by 
Royal Warrant a commission for awards to inventors under the 
chairmanship of that eminent judge Lord Justice Cohen, 1 with 
Mr Kenneth Swan, K.C., 2 as vice- chairman. 

After a discussion with my friend Mr Lionel Heald, K.C., 3 who 
had served as an Air Commodore, I decided that, as the Govern- 
ment considered it was right for inventors to receive awards, I 
should take advantage of this. Accordingly I made a claim on 
the Admiralty in respect of Plastic Armour, which, under the 
terms of the Royal Warrant, they could either agree or refer to 
the Royal Commission. As Dr Glanville's name was also on the 
patent he was joined in the claim, and, whatever award was made, 
1 I agreed to pay him a share out of it. I also informed Leo Lane 
that he would receive a reward for drawing my attention to the 
Hindmarsh report on Durastic material used at Dunkirk in 1940, 

As the Admiralty felt unable to agree my right to any award, or 
the amount, they referred the claim to the Royal Commission. 
The vast quantity of Plastic Armour which had been used all over 
the world w T as then disclosed by them. In the United States alone, 
on the report of Lieutenant-Commander A. H. Laurie, R.N'.V.R., 
from New York, some 3000 merchant ships had been fitted with 
the armour and 1.000 other ships equipped with it. The American 
Bureau of Ships estimated that the total cost of steel saved by the 
use of the armour in the United States was 69,000,000 dollars. In 
England and the Commonwealth some 7000 ships had been 
fitted, apart from the large use of the armour by the Army and 

1 Afterwards Baron Cohen. 

= Afterwards Sir Kenneth Swan, Q.C. 

3 Af terwards the Right lion. Sir Lionel Heald, Q.C, M.P. 



Royal Air Force. But, far more important, to quote Dr J. P. Laurie 
of the Royal Naval Scientific Service, in "The Triumph of Plastic 
Armour," published in The Shipping World of August 29, 1945; 

Plastic Armour, a product of naval scientific ingenuity', saved 
thousands of lives . . . this historic cycle of a development spon- 
sored by the Royal Navy, while saving lives and steel, bad 
done much to foster and maintain the high morale of the 
Merchant Navy. 

The facts and figures were assembled by the Admiralty, and in 
due course a day of hearing was fixed by the Commission. My 
counsel was Lionel Heald, K.C. {soon to be Attorney-General), 
with J. P. Graham 1 and Geoffrey Evrington as liis juniors. 

With characteristic generosity Heald wrote to me, saying that 
on no account would they take any fees — the unwritten etiquette 
of the Bar forbade it. 

The case, however, did not come on, and for good reasons. Like 
a bolt from the blue, I received in November 1946 a letter from 
patent agents, writing on behalf of Mr W. B. Thompson and 
Durastic, Ltd, objecting to the granting of final Letters Patent to 
Glanville and myself, and accusing me of "obtaining" the inven- 
tion from diem in August 1940. A similar letter had been sent to 
the Admiralty and Glanvillc. Not being versed in patent law, I 
was not clear what "obtaining" meant, but Graham soon put me 
right. "Obtaining" in these circumstances virtually inferred steal- 
ing, and my name and reputation were at stake both as a naval 
officer and in my own profession. 

Grimly I waited for this linn's ease to be filed in die Patent 
Office and served on the Admiralty, and I informed the Treasury 
Solicitors that 1 would fight the objection with all my power, as 1 
knew that the accusation was untrue. 

The objection of this company and Mr Thompson was duly 
lodged, and they claimed that, in August 1940, they had given 
me the formula and specification of Plastic Armour, and diat their 
original samples, which had so badly failed on the firing- range, 
were virtually Plastic Armour. These allegations were supported 
by declarations sworn by Mr Thompson in accordance with the 
p r o cc dur e o f the P ate nt Cou rt. 

Then followed a lamentable letter from my Lords of the Admi- 
ralty, dated November 21, 1946, and addressed to me. They p»' () ' 
posed to agree, subject to the Crown's having free use of the 
1 Afterwards J. P. Graham, Q.C. 



invention, that the company should have the patent. My honour 
and reputation were to be thrown to the winds with reckless dis- 
regard for an officer who had tried faithfully to serve them during 
the War. I wrote back on November 25, 1946, a burning letter to 
the Admiralty: 

The proposals made by my Lords in their letter have shocked 
me . . , the Admiralty have enjoyed the full benefit of this 
invention for sis years . . . their proposed action appears to be 
still more grave when it appears that no inquiry has been made 
of Dr Glanville or myself by the Admiralty as to the accuracy 
of the statements made by Durastic. Ltd, in their objection, 
particularly on their case of "obtaining" ... in fact, it can be 
shown that nearly every material statement contained in the 
case of "obtaining" is seriously inaccurate. Dr Glanville and I 
intend to fight this objection, and we object most strongly to 
the proposed action of my Lords. 

I handed tiiis letter personally to the office of the Secretary of 
the Admiralty, Sir Henry Markham, and made it plain that I was 
a very angry man. I requested an immediate conference with the 
proper Admiralty officials. The Secretary's assistant was visibly 
staggered by my wrath. 

In taking this action I was greatly strengthened by Glanville's 
discovery of the original typed specifications of the first samples 
of "insulphate" made by Durastic, Ltd, and Mr Thompson in 
August 1940. As related, when these targets proved useless on 
the range I threw- the documents on the floor, but they were 
picked up by Mr Markwick and put away. 1 In five years of war 
I had forgotten their existence, but when they were shown to me 
by Glanville I realized tiiat Mr Thompson's case of "obtaining" 
would, in a court of justice, be torn to shreds. I bad immediately 
sent copies to the Admiralty. 

Mr J. D. Morris, a very senior and benevolent official of the 
Admiralty, was appointed to inquire into this scandal. As Morris 
had, during the past years, been obtaining from the Treasury the 
millions necessary for my various naval enterprises, I was not 
sorry to find that he was in charge of the matter. 

We held a conference with Mr A. F. Colin Hay, the Treasury 
Solicitor. 1 finally struck Morris's desk with my fist and said that, 
Admiralty or no Admiralty, we were fighting the opposition of 
Durastic, Ltd. I asked that the Admiralty should pay our costs, as 
they owned the invention in equity and had had all the benefits 

'See pp. 50-rjl. 



from it, and Morris agreed to do this — provided I won. I had no 
objection to this proviso. 

Affidavits were now sworn by Glanville and myself in answer to 
those of Mr Thompson, and we were able to give the specification 
of his original samples of "Insulphate," and the vastly different 
targets afterwards ordered by me from him. I had an analysis 
made of the "Insulphate," four inches square, handed over the 
table by Mr Thompson that hot August day of 1940; a little bit 
was cut (mt for this purpose, and this cut can be seen in the 
sample exhibited at the Imperial War Museum. 

The case of obtaining was heard by Mr John Blake, 1 the Assist- 
ant Comptroller of Patents, and the hearing lasted two days. Mr 
G. Marlow and Mr T. A. Blanco White appeared for Durastic, 
Ltd, and Mr Thompson, 

Mr Thompson gave evidence first, and was sternly cross- 
examined by Lionel Heald, and the best comment on this evidence 
is contained in the judgment of the Court. Other witnesses gave 
evidence on his behalf, but of no particular relevance. I then 
gave evidence, explained how Plastic Armour was invented, and 
made it clear that this was a very grave matter for me. I w as cross- 
examined at length by Marlow. Glanville followed and told of the 
work done at the Road Research Laboratory, and then Lane 
related how he first got into touch with Mr Thompson. 

On February 16, 19-I.S, Mr Blake gave his judgment. It was a 
complete triumph for us, and not only was I exonerated from any 
suggestion of "obtaining," but the validity of the patent was 
upheld on all grounds, and granted to Glanville and myself. We 
also had an order for costs against Mr Thompson and D mastic, 
Ltd, but for some curious reason full costs were never awarded to 
a successful party in this Court; we received as high as had ever 
been given. The judgment was detailed and complete, and it is 
only necessary to quote one passage: 

Having listened carefully to Mr Terrell and seen something 
of his ability and character, I have no hesitation in accepting 
his evidence. ... I find myself unable to accept Mr Thompson's 
evidence as reliable . , . lie has seen his case crumbling away 
under the weight of evidence produced by the Applicants 
[Glanville and myself]. His explanation of the errors and dis- 
crepancies in his evidence was that his firm's premises were bit 
seven times during the War and their records could not be 
collected. For that reason alone I should not judge him harshly, 
1 Afterwards Sir John Blake, 



but there is further reason for taking a lenient view of his con- 
duct in this case. He, as a seaman, was justifiably proud of the 
contributions reported to have been made by Durastic, Ltd, in 
saving life at Dunkirk. Lest it be suggested that the Applicants 
are obtaining the decision purely on some technical point I 
have reviewed the various allegations of the Opponents 
[Thompson and Durastic, Ltd] . . . in fairness to Mr Terrell and 

in order to dispose of all suggestion against him Mr Terrell 

emerges without the slightest spot on his character and repu- 

Our claim now came before the Royal Commission, and was 
heard in January 1949, and the hearing took three days. The same 
faithful team of counsel appeared for me, and Mr G. PI. Lloyd 
Jacob, K.C., 1 and Mr Geoffrey W. Tookey 2 appeared for the 
Admiralty. The set-up before the Commission was entirely dif- 
ferent from that in the Patent Court. Evidence was not given on 
oath, and the principles on which the Commission acted were 
based upon the provisions contained in the Royal Warrant and 
also upon the decisions made by the similar Commission which 
sat after the First World War. 

As a serving naval officer I could only receive an ex gratia 
award, and die first consideration was whether Plastic Armour was 
an invention of exceptional utility to the Crown; in their answer 
to our claim the Admiralty had admitted this. The next issue was 
wh ether it was my duty at the time to produce a new armour. If it 
was my specific duty to produce armour the award would be much 
less and subject to a discount which could amount to as much as 
100 per cent. The Admiralty had alleged that Goodeve, in 1940, 
had instructed me to invent a new armour, and with this allega- 
tion I sharply disagreed. Running an information section and my 
other duties were very different from being given the specific 
task of inventing armour. The original terms of reference of Sir 
James Somerville in 1940 became important in this respect. 

At an earlv stage of the hearing Lord Justice Cohen intimated 
to Lionel Heald' that, although Glanville and I were claiming 
joindy, our contributions to the invention would be considered 
and assessed separately. 

All these issues and the question of my status in 194.0 made tire 
trial complicated. The case involved a great bundle of correspon- 
dence agreed with the Crown, many other documents, and an en- 
ormous bound volume about Plastic Armour, which was so heavy 
1 Afterwards the Hon. Mr Justice. Lloyd Jacob. 
e After wards Geoffrey Tookey, Q.C. 



that no one could lift it and which was called "The Bible." Fur- 
thermore, the Admiralty, through Lloyd Jacob, appeared to con- 
test the case as if an opposing party in an action. The Admiralty 
should not have descender] into the dust of the arena, but placed 
the facts before the Royal Commission in a more quasi-judicial 
capacity. Fortunately, however, the judgment of Mr Blake in the 
Talent Court had decided once and for all the validity of our 
patent, and Lloyd Jacob accepted this position. 

I gave evidence and told my story, as I had told it before Mr 
Blake. My cross-examination by Lloyd Jacob was wide and exten- 
sive, even going back to the First World War. The real issue 
between us lay in the scope of my duties in 1940, and I stoutly 
maintained that armour was never mentioned to me by Goodeve 
untif I had carried out the first trials of "lnsulphate" at the Road 
Research Laboratory on August 17, 1940. 

Glanville then gave his account of the genesis of the invention, 
and he also crossed swords with Lloyd Jacob about his duties at 
the Road Research Laboratory. 

Captain Selby came and gave his evidence like a trump and 
waved his long arms in emphasis. He told of the great value the 
invention had been to the Merchant Navies and the godsend it 
had been to him personally. 

Captain William Richmond Fell, R.N., as commander from 
1941 to 1943 of H.M.S. Prince Charles and Raiding Force "B," 
consisting of ex-Belgian cross-Channel steamers, in a written 
statement to the Commission described his unhappy experience 
of concrete protection under attacks by hostile aircraft. He wrote 
of Plastic Armour: 

Later, on going to sea, I found that the morale of the ship's 
company was very materially strengthened by tiieir being be- 
hind Plastic Armour, and when in "the spring of 1942 Prince 
Charles was attacked by two German fighters and machine- 
gunned the true value of the armour became evident. In no case 
where hits were received on the Plastic Armour did penetration 
occur . . . casualties must otherwise have resulted. During the 
Vaagso raid of January 1943 splinters from a near miss hit Prince 
Charles on the Plastic Armour, but did not penetrate. The 
added knowledge that it was a proved material enhanced 
efficiency. ... I had a feeling of nakedness without it. 

Our case concluded with an examination by the Commission 
under the guidance of Selby of exhibits of the armour. Mr Swan, 
vice-chairman, was particularly interested in lifting large pieces 



r of concrete and comparing them witii the weight of the armour. 
He had served in the Roval Naval Volunteer Reserve during the 
First World War. 

Then came the turn of the Admiralty, with Goodeve as their 
witness. Once again conflict broke out as to my duties in 1940, 
and Lionel Heald in cross-examination pressed Goodeve hard on 
his recollection. 

Lane, Laurie, and other witnesses were called by Lloyd Jacob 
and Tookey, and then they called Mr Thompson. He, however, 
said that he did not wish to give evidence, and Lord Justice Cohen 
dispensed with his testimony. 

During Lionel He aid's final speech Lord Justice Cohen inter- 
posed and said that the Commission was unanimously of the 
opinion that I was the sole inventor of Plastic Armour and that an 
award would be made only to me. Lionel Heald replied on my 
behalf that in such case I would still keep my undertakings to 
Glanville and Lane. So the hearing concluded, and a short while 
later the amount of my award was announced in the Tress as just 
under .£10,000. 

It was the highest made by the Royal Commission to any naval 
officer of the War. 


Aberpoktk, 98 

Achilles, H.M.S., 35 

Actaeoa Nets, 162 

Adelaide, 178 

Admiral Hipper (Gorman warship), 

Admiralty Delegation, U.S.A., 184 

et seq. 
Admiralty Net Defence, 162-164, 

Aircraft Production, Ministry of, 64, 

Aim H.M.S., 35, 36 
Alanbroftke of B rook ebo rough, Field- 

Marshal Vis count, 132 
Alcantara, H.M.S. (armed merchant 

Cruiser), 61 
Alexander of Hillsborough, Vis count, 

125, 126, 172, 200, 206, 207, 210, 

AUsmd, H.M.S. , 19S 
Allen, Captain G.R.O., 59, 174, 175 
Altmark (prison ship), 36 
Amalgamated Road Stone Corpora- 
tion, 53 
American Ear Association, 185 
An ti- Aircraft Weapons and Devices 

(Admiralty Inspectorate), 13, 23, 

36, 03, 97", 134 et passim, 
Anti-Snbmarine Department (Admir- 
alty), 26 
Anti-U-hoat Committee, 160-161, 

181, 186, 201, 202 
Archangel, 147 
Arizona, U.S.S., 150 
Armament Supply, Director of, 131. 
Armour, 45 et seq. See also Plastic 

Asdic. 138, 145, 146. 149, 154 
Ashlev Walk, 213 
Atrocities, German, 218-219 
Attlee, Earl, 224, 225 

Haksr-Caeh, Gkocp Captain, 203 

Balloon barrage, 9S 

Barrow-in-Furness, 144 

Barry, Admiral, 146 

Bath", '58, 63, 67, 76, 77 

Beard mores, 210 

Bell. Lie uteri ant-Commander Stanley, 

Bergen, 214 
Bermuda, 73 
Bernstein, Sidney, 127-128 


Black err, Professor P. M. S„ 155 

Blackwater, river, 16 
Blake, Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey 

Blake, Sir John, 230, 232 
Bonaventure, 1 1. M.S.. 108 
Bond, F, W., 109-110, 134 
Bordeaux, 214 

Boutwood. Captain [ohm, 194 
Boviugdon, 207, 20S, 209, 213 
Bradwell, 16 

Brand, Captain E. S., 191, 192 
Brentwood, 96-97, 211 
Brest, 153, 207, 214, 216, 219 
Bririd, Captain E. J. P., 60 
B rins m e a d , Lie ut e n a n t-Com m an d er 

A. G, 157, .158, J 59, 200 
Britain. Battle of, 43, 55, 67, 77, 84 

96, 101, 113 
Brociman, Paymaster Captain R. V., 

Brooke, General Sir Alan, 132 
Brown, Commander II. N. S., 69, 72 
Bruntisfield. Baron, 200, 213 
Bryant, C. E., 193 
Buckingham, J., 32, 93 
Bunker, Colonel Howard, 204, 207 
Burden, — , 174 

Bureau of Ships, American, 227 
Bun-, Professor E. Godfrey, 197-198 
BurweE, H.M.S., 141-142 
Bussefl, F. Dale, 80, 81, 83. 91, 100 
Butterwick, M. T., 74 
Byron Pictures, Ltd, 173 

"C— " (tug), 165 
Cairo, 109 

California, U.S.S., 150 
Camouflage, 43^14, 197-198 
Campbell, Commander A. B., 118, 

119, 123 
Campbell, Mungo, 175 
Canada, 190-1.93 
Cannon, anti-U-boat, in aircraft, 151- 

Cardiff, 82, 103 
Carontec, 218 
Cass Hough, Colonel, 215 
Cassels, lion. Mr Justice, 20 
Chamberlain, A. Neville, 14, 17-18 
Chandos of Aldershot, Viscount, 20o> 

Chatham Dockyard, 130-13.1 

l&erbourg, 215, 216 

(iierbeurg peninsula, 199, 212. 2 14 

lierwell, Baron, 157-158, 1.61, 162, 
200, 201-202, 205 

ifcevrons Club, 198-199 

Churchill, Sir Winston, negotiates 
transfer of U.S. destroyers, 73; 
broadcasts, 84; advocates balloon 
ban'age, 98; attends showing of 
The Gun, 126- 127; on Sir Mil lis 
fefferis, 160; and Anti- U-boat 
Committee, 160, 181, 201; and 
camouflaging of merchant ships, 
197-498; and the rocket bomb, 
201-202; mentioned, 14, 18, 27, 
37, 96, 157, 159, 161, 199, 200, 
201-202, 224 

Civil Defence, 1.5, 17, 18-19, 78; 
cricket match at Lords, 20 

Cleave. Commander, 186 

Clee Hill granite, 62 

Clyde, river, 147, 162 

Cockfosters Interrogation Centre, 35, 
200, 221-222 

Cohen, Baron, 227, 231, 233 

Colingridge, Lieutenant, 102, 

Columbia Bar Association, 185 

Col win, Lieutenant G. R., 143 

Combined Operations, 166, 
168, 173 

" 36 
Admiral George C. 

Fleet Sir 
154, 1.55 

INDEX 235 

111, 112, 114, 125-126, 128, 132, 

133, 160, 182 
Devonport, 99 
Dieppe raid, 167-168 
Docket system (Admiralty), 26-27 
Doenit?., 'Admiral, 19, 140 
Donaldson, Charles, 177, 196 
Doolittle, General, 210 
Dover, 29, 220, 223 
Dover, Straits of ("'Hell-fire Corner"), 

25, 29, 30, 94, 103, 122, 168 
Drey or, Admiral Sir Frederick, 173- 

Duddfeswell, 34 
Duncan, Sir Andrew, 205 
Dunkirk, 34, 45-46. 84, 218, 227, 

Dutilop Rubber Company, 130 
Durastic, 45-46, 227, 230 
Durastic Bituminous Products, Ltd, 

46, 63, 80, 92, 131, 228, 229, 231 



Cossack, H.M.S., 
Crawford, Rear- 

162-163, 164- 
Cray River flint, 
Creasy, Admiral of the 

George, 149-150, 151, 

Creiner, Kapitan-Leutnant, 146 
Cripps, Sir Stafford, 133, 160, 166, 

167, 172, 200, 201, 202, 205, 210- 

Proft, first Baron, 84 
Cro gh ai i , Lieut en an t - Commander, 
I 23-24 

Crossbow," operation, 212 
Crow. Sir Alwvn, 98, 200, 205, 213 
Cummins, G. f ., 1 17-1 IS, 119, 120, 

121, 122, 123, 124, 127 
Cunard Company, 178 
Cunningham of Hyndhope, Admiral 
... of the Fleet Viscount, 212 
Wimcoa, H.M.S.. 194-195 
Cm-rev, Captain C. N. E., 162, 163, 

164, 165 

"E— C— " (tanker), 164, 165 

Earle, Commander, 186 

Eastbury Park, 153 

Ed els ten, Admiral Sir John Here- 
ward, 180, 195 

Edmonston, H.M..C.S., 198 

Edward VII, King, 193 

Edwards, A. J„ 79-80 

Edwards, Chief Pettv Officer, 146 

Eighth Air Force, U.S.A., 210, 215, 

Election, General (1945), 224-225 

Elizabeth II, H.M. Queen, 199 

Empire Rhodes, 162 

Empire Toiler, 174 

Emyireas of Scotland, 182 

Esmonde, I Jeu tenant-Commander 
£., 153 

Everitt. Win g-Comrn under G. H., 

Evrington, Geolfrey, 228 

Excellent, H.M.S. ' (gunnery school, 
Portsmouth), 60, 61, 68, 69, 71, 
72 74, 75, 76, 87, 89, 90, 94, 114 

Exeter, H.M.S., 35 

|Daintv," H.M.S., 
Daniel, F. W., 74 
,Mavies, Captain G. 

Fair'fiiti.d, Admiral, 184 

Fairmile Organization, 136, 155 

Falmouth, 53, 57, 82, 92, 112 

Farge. 214 

Famborough, 207 

Fell. Captain William Richmond, 
108 Ferguson, D. G., 171 

'Flash gun' (anti-aircraft device), 28- 
O. G. [07, 108, 29,32 



Forrester, V., 193 

Fori Cronkhite, 200-201 

Fort Halstcad, 201 

Francis, Sub-Lieutenant, 29, 130 

Fraser of North Cape, Admiral of 

the Fleet Baron, 25, 65, 77, 79, 

91, 107, 108-109, 117, 125, 130, 

French, Vice-Admiral Sir Wilfred, 

Fuel Research Station, 170, 172, 173, 

Furze, Lieutenant, 112 

"Gaulant." n.M.S., 108 

General Election (1945), 224-225 

General Electric Company, 28 

G eorges lin, Capitaine de Corvette, 

Gibraltar, 24; Straits of, suggested 

blocking of, 154 
Giordan. Warrant Engineer, 143 
Glanville, Dr W. H., 50 et seq., 63, 
76, 77, 73-79, 80, 90, 100, 111, 
113, 158, -MS* 227* ei seq. 
Glasgow, 76, 82, 83, S5, 92, 174, 181 
Gneisenau {German warship), 153 
Coering, Hermann, 18, 73, 74, 126 
Goldsmith, Lieutenant, 218 
Goodall. Sir Stanley, 77 
Goodevc, Commander Sir Charles, 
author's first meeting with, 13-14; 
early days at Admiralty, 22 ei 
seq., 37-38, 40; and Oerlikon gun, 
41; and camouflaging of merchant 
ships, 43-44; and Plastic Armour, 
52.' 54. 02-63, 65, 66, 67-69, 72- 
73, 74 et seq., 79, 80, 92, 93, 231 
et seq.; other activities, 99, 103, 
104; and The Gun, 117, 118, 125; 
mentioned, 12, 21, 35, 82, 10a, 
107, 129, 137 
Coolden, Captain A. C, 11 I 
Gornold, Sub-Lieutenant, 69, 70, 72 
Graf Spee (German warship), 35-36 
Graham, J. P., 228 
Grantham. 41 

Graph, II.M.S. (U570), 144-148. 
151, 152, 153, 150, 157, 158, 159, 
170. See aJsn U570 
Greenwich, 171, 176 
Grigg. Sir James, 205 
Growler (tug), 147-148 
Gun, The (film), 124, 125, 126, 127, 
128, 173' 

Habmelds, 210, 213 

Halifax, Nova Scotia, 191, 193 

Hall. Lieutenant -Commander, 82, 87 

Hamburg, 139, 214 
Hardy, Lieutenant-Commander, 124- 

I la mm an, Aver ell, 127 
Harris, Lieutenant, 88, 104, 114, 129 

134, 135 
Harvey Projector (rocket weapon) 

Harwood, Rear-Admiral Sir Henry 

Haslar Hospital, 114-115 
Has! em ere, 138 
Hay, A. F. Colin, 229 
Heald, Right Hon. Sir Lionel, 227 

228, 230,^231, 233 
"Hedgehog" (anti-L-boat weapon) 

27, 99, 106, 157 
Heligoland, 214 
"Hell-fire Corner" — see Dover, S trails 

Hemstead, Captain J. R., 21 
Hind, Lieutenant-Commander, 104 

113-114, 124, 129, 134, 135, 196 
Hindmarsh, Shipwright Lieutenant 

45, 49, 227 
Hipper (German warship), 147 
Hiroshima, 225 
Hispano cannon, 151, 152 
Hitler, Adolf, 14, 18, 34, 43, 150, 

212, 222 
Holbrook, Commander N. D., 24, 

45, 116 
Hollow-charge bomb, 156-159, 160, 

Home Guard, 84, 120. 166 
Horton, Admiral Sir Max, 198 
Hove, 31 
Hull, 82, 87, 103 
Hull. Mrs Amelia, 187, 188. 190, 193- 

Hull, Barbara, 193-194 
Huntley. Gordon. 103 
Huntley, Mrs, 103 
Hurley, T. F., 170, 173, 174-175, 

176, 177 
Huskisson, Captain B. L,, 130 
Hvalford, 144 

Hvdrographic Department (Admir- 
alty), 26 

"I don't smoke, thank you" (Kim), 

Iceland, 138, 1.40, 143 
Ilmuiden, 221, 222, 223 
lllingworth, Captain. Sir Gordo". 




Imperial War Museum, 46, 148, 230 
Information, Minis try of, 116, 126, 

127, 128 
Information section (Admiralty), 14, 

23 et seq., 45, 87 
ftrsulphate," 47, 48-49, 50, 51, o3, 

55, 68, 80, 229, 230, 232 
Isaacs, Right Hon. George, 224 
Islay, 147 

Jackson, N. W., 185 

Jacob, Hon. Mr Justice Lloyd, 231, 

232, 233 
Jameson, — , 187 
Jameson, Mrs, 187 
Jamieson, E., 24, 27 
Jamieson, Lieutenant, 151, 153-153 
farrett, Sir Clifford, 203 
TelTeris, Major-General Sir Milks, li, 

99, 156-157, 159, 160, 161, 179 
Jenkins, Dr H. M., 217 
Jerram, Paymaster Captam, 131, 132 
Jerrard, Lieutenant, 109 
Tossing Fjord, 36 
Joubert, Air Chief Marshal Sir- Philip, 

153, 154 
JW51B (convoy), 147 

Kekler, Gestapo official, 219 
Kelsey, Colonel Ben, 207, 213 
Kendall's, 41 , ^ , 

Kennedy-Purvis, Admiral Sir Charles, 

159-160, 173, 1.80, 195, 200, 204, 

205, 206, 212, 225 
Kennedy-Purvis, Lady, 189 
Kensington, Sidney, 11-12, 226 
Kev, Lie ii tenant-Colonel Algcne, 209- 

Kiel, 139, 142. 214 
King. Rear-Admiral E. L. S., 171 
King Alfred (R.N.V.R. training 

school), 30 
King George's Dock, London, 87 
Kingharn, Ceorge, 15 
Kin&tone Agate (trawler), 142 
Kirkpatrick, W. M„ 191 
Kola Inlet, 147 

La Pallice, 214 

Lane, Lieutenant-Commander Leo, 
17 38-39, 40, 45, 54, 87, 227, 
230, 233 

Langley, Colonel H. V., 166-167 

Langsdorff, Captain, 38 

Laurie, I a'eu ten ant-Commander A. 
II 82, 85, 86, 227, 233 

Laurie. Dr J. P., 228 

Lawson, Captain, 186, 190 

Leathers, Viscount. 172 

Lee Dr A. R., 48-51, 55, 63, 64, 65, 

66, 69, 82, 85, 86 
Leonberg, 214 
Lerwick, 147 

Leuchars Air Station, 151, 153 
Lewis gun, 131 
Limmer and Trinidad Lake Asphalt 

Company, Ltd, 81, 85, 92, 105, 

109, 110, 111, 114, 134 
Lindemann, Professor — sea Cher- 
well, Baron 
Lithgow. Sir James, 86-87 
Liverpool, 82, 87, 92, 150, 155, 171, 

176, 177, 198 
Llewellyn, Captain L. E. II., 203, 

L o elm er, I a"e u tenant - Co mmand or 

Robert, 134 
Lock wood, Captain Charles A., 

junior, 150-151, 162-163 
Lord's cricket ground, 20 
Lorient, 214 
Luxmoore, Right Hon. Lord Justice, 

Lyttelton, Oliver, 205, 206 

Mackenzie, Rear-Admihal W., 162, 

Mackimion, Right Hon. Lord Justice, 

Maclay, F. P., 180 
Maiskv, I. M., 133 
Mamon, Dr, 219 
Manchester, 99 

Mausergh, Admiral Sir Maurice, 2a 
Markham, Sir Henry, 229 
Mark wick, A. H. D., 48-52, 55, 64, 

90, 110, 229 
Marlow, G.. 230 
Marriott, Captain P. B,, 145 
Marriott, Thomas, 81, 82-83, 92, 

100, 105-100, 110, 11.4, 134 
Mathewman, C. W., 134 
Menhinick, Lieutenant A., 107-1 OS 
Merchant-ship Repairs, Director, 74 
Mercum, II.M.S. (radar station), 138 
M id dleton. Lieutenant-Commander 

Erie, 108 
Millar. Commander F„ 23, 26, 29, 
32 36-37. 93, 104, 105, 107, 119, 
121, 124, 125, 131 
Miller, Surg eon -Cap tain Douglas, 

119, 199 
Mills, Mrs Marguerite Helen, 198 
Mines Department (Admiralty), 26 
Mitchell. Sir Steuart, 41, 89, 103, 116, 
125, 128 



Monekton of Brenchley, Viscount, 

MootevideOi 36 
Montreal, 191- -192 
Moresby, Walter, 198 
Morey, Captain If. W., .1.84, 185, 186 
Morgan, Group Captain Wynter, 202 
Morlaix, 216-217, 218, 219 
Morris, J. D.. 229, 230 
Motley, inventor, 13.1, 133 
Mountain, head of Commissions and 

Warrants Branch, Admiralty, 12, 

13-14, 21, 22 
Mounthatten of Burma, Admiral of 

the Fleet Earl, 42, 166, J 67, 168, 

"Mulberry" harbour, 215 
Munich, 14, 16 
Murray, Lieut en ant- Commander ]. 

E., 207-208 
Murray, Bear -Admiral L. W., 193 
Murrow, Edward, 118-119. J2J, 122, 


Nagasaki, 225 

Nalder, Gerald, 53, 57, 112, 113 
Nalder, Mrs Gerald, 113 
Nalder, Miss, 113 
National Defence, Department of, 

Ottawa, 195 
Naval Accounts, Director of, 93 
Naval Air Division (Admiralty), 163 
Naval Construction,' Department of 

(Admiralty 1, 58, 01, 94-95, 110, 

Naval Construction, Depiilv Director 

of, 68 
Naval Construction, Director of 60 - 

61, 63, 64; 65, 67, 68, 72, 74 76- 

77,87,91, 111, 139, 144 
Naval Intelligence (Admiralty), 26 

38,214 r ' 

Naval Ore! nance (Admiraltv). 26, 59 

60, 65 ? 

Navy Department, United States 

190. 192 
Net ships, 162-166 
Nenchatel Asphalt Company 92 
New York, 183, .184-185, 186-190 
Newcastle, 82 
Newfoundland, 73, 164 
Nieder-Sachsworpen, 214 
Neimoller, inventor, 156 
Noble, Admiral Sir Percy, 149 177 

184, 186, 188 
Norden sight, 206 
North Sea, 21, 55, 108 
North Shields, 45 

Northern Chief, 141. 

Northolt Aerodrome, 77 

Norway, Lieutenant-Command, 
Nevil Shute, 23, 27, 28, 29 37 <ta 
40, 55, 85, 98-99, 105, 107, 200 

"Ocean Vic: ah/ 1 193 

Oerlikon gnu, 40-41, 89, 90 \m 

116, 117, 124, 1.28, 131 ' 6 > 
Offard, D. E. ]., 60 
Oklahoma, U.S. 8,, 150 
ON210 (convoy), 198 
ON67 (convoy), 164 
Oran, 23, 75 ' 
Ordnance Board, 59, 60, 111 an 

220, 222 "" ■' 

Orfordness, 207, 209, 211, 213 
Oslo Fiord, 139 
Oswald, Captain G. H., 116 117 

122, 123, 124, 125 
Ottawa, 1.90-191. 192 
Ottley, Miss, 34-35 
Ouvry, Commander J. G. D., 39 
"Overlord," operation, 206 

Paramount Films, 117, 128 
Paramount News Keels, 30 

Pas tie Calais, 220 

Patent Court, 230-231 

Patia, Ii.M.S., 107-1.08 

Patterson, Bear- Admiral W. B., 198 

Paul], Hon. Mr Justice, 52, 53 

Pearl Harbour, Japanese attack on, 

Penlee granite, 53, 54, 57, 62 63 
67, 69, 78, 81, 91, 100, 109, 113 

Penlee quarry, 53, 88, 91, 112 

Penmaenmawr and Trinidad Pake 
Asphalt Com pan v, Ltd, 92, 134 

Petersfield, 68, 69, 114 

Phikmle, H.M.S., 198 

Phillips, Bear-Admiral Thomas, 125 

Phillips, Trevor, 187, 189 

Pidcock, Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey, 
202, 222, 223 

Pirn, Captain Sir Biehard. 197 

Plastic Armour, 57, 58, 59, 61, 62 ei 
seq., 74 et seq., 84 et seq., 90 ct 
seq., 129 et seq.; shields, 166 et 
seq.; validity of patent, and Royal 
Commission award, 22/ et seq. 

Plate, Biver, battle of, 35, 36, 154 

Plougaslou, 218 

Plymouth, 99 

Poddiugton, 220, 221 

Port Glasgow, 76 

Portal of Hungerford, Marshal of the 
Royal Air Force Viscount, 212 



Portsmouth, 68, 114, 115, 149, 151 

Potter, Admiral, 103 

Pound, Admiral of the Fleet Sir 

Dudley, 136, 137, 159, 160, 162, 

171, 173, 199 
Power, Admiral of the Fleet Sit 

Arthur, 131, 132, 133 
preseott (Ottawa), 192 
Fridham, Vice -Admiral Sir Francis, 

203, 211 
Prince Charles, H.M.S., 232 
prince of Wales, II.M.S., 125 
Princes Kisborough, Ministry of 

Home Security Museum at, 39 
Prinz Eagesj (Germ an warship), 153 
'Pull-out' automatic (in Junkers 87), 


0" snrrs, 36 
Queen Mary, 169, 193, 194-195 

Radar, 138, 151, 169, 178, 222 

Raiding Force "B," 232 

Railway and Canal Commission, 52 

Renown, H.M.S., 199 

Rexwort'hy, Lieutenant D. B., 223 

Reykjavik, 143 

Richardson, Commander F. D., 23, 

27 37, 39, 40, 97-98, 105, 107 
Rinouski, H.M.C.S., 198 
Road Research Station, 48 et seq., 
55 el seq., 62, 03 et seq., 66-6/, 
68, 69, 75, 70, 77, 78, 79-80, 82, 
90, 92, 100, 101, 110-111, 112, 
113, 201, 222, 230, 232 
Roberts, Captain J. II., 150 
Bobson, |., 74 
'Rocket bomb, first Allied, 197 et 

seq., 2L3 et seq. 
Rocket Landing Craft, 99 
Rocket sites, German, 212, 214, 215 
Boekets, 98, 1.06 
Rommel, Field-Marshal, 109 
Roosevelt, Franklin D„ 73, 127, 188, 

Roosevelt, Nicholas, 188 
Roosevelt, Mrs Nicholas, 188 
Roskill. Captain S.W., 41 
Rotterdam, 214, 223, 224 
Royal Commission on Awards to 

Inventors, 54, 80, 227, 231-233 
Ruislip, 41. 

Russia, Plastic Armour offered to, 
133- 134 

St Eval airfield, 161 
St John, New Brunswick, 191, 192, 


St John's Wood, London, 15-16, 17, 

38, 52, 67, 78 
St Martin -le- Grand, 215 
St Nazaire, 214 
St Pol, 218 

St Zfiio, H.M. trawler, 105 
Saher, II.M.S., 184 
Saladin, H.M.S., 144 
Salvania (salvage tug), 143-144 
Scharuliorst (German warship), 153 
"Schnorkel" (P-boat device), 197, 

211, 214 
Sehofield, Vice -Admiral Brian, 26, 
176-177, 180, 184, 186, 188, 191 
Schwartz, Colonel, 215, 221 
Scientific Research, Director of (Ad- 
miralty), 93 
"Scorpion" (mobile airfield de- 
lender), 44, 130-1.33 
"Sea Lion," operation, 34, 84 
Selby, Captain Roger, duties of, 24; 
arid concrete armour, 58, 60, 88; 
and Plastic Armour, 58-59, 64, 65, 
74 et seq., 83, 87, 88, 89, 91, 94, 
99-100, 101, 232; and The Gun, 
118 et seq.; and smoke -elimina- 
tion, 170, 173; mentioned, 29, 30, 
44, 01, 103 
"Shellite" (explosive), 203, 209 
Sherbrooke, Rear-Admiral R, St V., 

Shipping, Ministry of, 60, 64, 74 
Shoeburyness, 39, 111-112, 209 
Shute, Nevil— see Norway, Lieuten- 
ant-Commander Nevil Shute 
Sinclair, Sir Archibald, 126, 127, 205, 

Smith, Lieutenant-Commander E. B. 

A., 68, 70-72, 114 
Smoke on the Horizon, 1.69 
Smoke-elimination, 109 et seq.; mis- 
sion to U.S.A., 182 et seq. 
Smoke-elimination committee, 170, 

1.74, 1.75-176 
Somervell, Right ITon. Lord Justice, 

Somerville, Admiral Sir fames, 13, 
22, 23, 31, 36, 47, 75, 93, 107, 
154, 231 
South Africa, 129 
South Shields, 107 
Southampton, 40, 40, 58, 72, 82, 87, 
92, J02, 112, 115, 123, 214, 215, 
Southampton, II.M.S., 108 
Spaatz, General, 213 
Sparks, Sir Ashley, 185 
Spithead, 41. 



'Splinter gun,- 110-111 

Spraggett, Colonel R. W., 214-215 

"Squid/' 157 

Staff Duties, Director of, 58 

Stalin, 197 

Starling, H.M.S., 222 

Sten gun, 133 

Stores, Director of (Ad mind tv). 93 

Stradlujg, Sir Reginald, 39, 47-50 

Sunderland, 99 

Supply, Ministry of, 100, 107, 133 

Sutherland, Lieu ten ant- Colonel, 217 

Swan (yacht), 16, 21 

Swan, Sir Kenneth, 227, 232-233 

Tactical School, Portsmouth, 149 
Tactical table, Liverpool, 149-150 
Tallboy" bomb). 204, 207, 2J4, 217 
Temple (London), tire. 11, 12, 14- 

15, 148 225-226 
Terrell, Christopher. 12, 15, 16 34 

155, 181, 189, 195 
Ten-ell, Mrs Edward. 15, 16, 181 
Terrell, Thomas (author's father), 13- 

Terrell, Thomas (author's brother), 77 
Terror, H.M.S., 108 
Thames, river, attempt to black out 

Thompson, Squadron Leader T H 

Thompson, W. Bernard, 46, 47 48 

51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 58, 62 80, 

87, 131,228,229,230,233 
Thor (German raider), 61 
Thorlakshoih, 143 
Thurso of Ulster', Viscount, 126 127 

205, 207 
Tookey, Geoff rev, 231, 233 
Torpcx" (explosive), 155-156, 157, 

Trade Division (Admiralty), 23 25 
58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 65, 88, 94, 118 
123, 137, 169-170, 173, 174, 176^ 

Training and Staff Division (admir- 
alty), 40, 64, 65, 87 

Transport, Ministry of, 170 171 
Vm, 174, 175, 180, 184, 187, 19lj 

TrapnelL John Graham, 20 21 
Trondhjem, J 99, 214 
Truman, President, 225 

us ™, 138-144, 151. See also Graph, 

U-boat Committee— see Anti-U-boat 


U-boat concrete shelters, 199-9ma 
207, 214 - () °> 

U-boats, pattern bombing of -,-,,■„ 
posed^ 155-156 ' °- 

United States, mission to, on smoln 
elimination, ] 82-196 

Ursula, H.M.S,, 145 

Us bo me, Vice- Admiral C. V fse 
136-138, 149 ei seq., 153, 154 A 
seq., ISO, 161, 162, 169, 174 ]7% 
177, 185, 189, 197, 198 ' 

VI (bomb), 211, 212 

V2 (rocket), 214, 220 

Vancouver, 191 

Vaughan, Group Captain R. C 49 

109 ' 

Vernon, H.M.S. (naval mine and 

electrical establishment) 97 
Vian, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Phil™ 

38 ' 

Vi eke rs -Arm strongs, 207, 210, 213 
Virandeville, 215 

Wake-Walker, Admiral Sir Fkfd- 

ehjck, 160, 176, 211 
Walker, Captain Frederick John, 222 
War Shipping Administration, 185 
Ward ell, E. A., 146 
Warner, Sir Pelbam, 20 
Warren, Lieutenant, 102 109 1<?9 
Washington, 18:3-184, 185, 186, 188 
Waters, D. B., 82, 85 
Watten, 220, 221 
West of England quarrv, 53 
West Virginia, U.S.S., 150 
Western Approaches, Command 148, 

149, 150, 177 
Wheel, Pat, 185, 190, 193-194 
Whitchurch, 27, 99, J 56, 157 158, 

160, J79, 200 
White, T. A. Blanco, 230 
Wileockson, Leading Telegraphist, 

Williams, Professor E. T., 205 
Wilson, Colonel James W., 221 
Windermere, 141-142 
Wires, parachute (anti-aircraft de- 
vice), 37, 39 
Wood, W., 46 

Woodbridge, 208, 209, 210, 212, 213 
Woodhouse, Admiral Sir Charles, 35. 

36, 130, 131 
Woods, Lieutenant-Commander S. 

R. F., 141, 142 
Worthy Domr Aerodrome, 28, 133 

"York," If. M.S., 108